The Health Benefits of Superoxide Dismutase

How SOD Supplements Are Used to Fight Free Radicals

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Superoxide dismutase is an enzyme found naturally in your body. Also available in dietary supplement and injectable forms, superoxide dismutase promotes the breakdown of free radicals.

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Superoxide dismutase supplements are used to treat and prevent a number of health problems and diseases. These supplements are normally made from a combination of wheat and melon extract.

Health Benefits

So far, research on the health effects of supplements containing superoxide dismutase is limited. What's more, there's some evidence that superoxide dismutase may not be absorbed by the body when taken in supplement form.

In alternative medicine, superoxide dismutase supplements are said to protect against the following conditions:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cataracts
  • Gout
  • Inflammation
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scleroderma

Superoxide dismutase is also said to slow up the aging process and reverse signs of aging in the skin. However, there is not enough evidence to support the use of SOD supplements for any of these uses.

Scientific research has only provided insight into a few health benefits of superoxide dismutase.

Preliminary research suggests that superoxide dismutase shows promise in the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, cataracts, and some forms of cancer, according to a report published in Medical Science Monitor in 2002. However, there is currently a lack of clinical trials testing the use of superoxide dismutase in the treatment of these conditions.

There's also some evidence that taking superoxide dismutase in combination with gliadin (a type of protein sourced from wheat) may help protect against damage caused by oxidative stress. In a preliminary study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2004, for instance, tests on animals revealed that treatment with a combination of superoxide dismutase and gliadin may help increase antioxidant activity.

Studies on the health effects of intravenously administered superoxide dismutase include a 1994 report published in Circulation. The study involved 120 patients who had recently experienced a heart attack. Prior to undergoing coronary angioplasty (a procedure used to open narrow arteries in the heart), patients received either a placebo or an infusion of superoxide dismutase. Study results showed that superoxide dismutase failed to produce improvements in cardiac function.

Possible Side Effects

Due to the lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of supplements containing superoxide dismutase.

The injectable form of superoxide dismutase as used in scientific research appears to be safe. However, SOD supplements from animal sources have raised concerns because they have the potential to come from sick or diseased animals. Health experts advise that consumers avoid supplements from animal sources.

Also, there is no evidence about the effects of SOD on pregnant or breastfeeding women so these women are cautioned against using the supplements.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

Dosage and Preparation

There has not been enough scientific research to establish an appropriate dose of superoxide dismutase. The right dose for you may depend on factors including your age, gender, and medical condition. It's best to seek the advice of your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

What to Look For

A study published in Food Chemistry points out that superoxide dismutase is found in all fresh food sources. The review specifically examines spinach, peas, tomato, mustard leaves, and other sources. However, many consumers still prefer to supplement.

Available for purchase online, superoxide dismutase supplements can be found in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

But due to the lack of scientific evidence to support SOD supplements, and the fact that (like other ingested enzymes) SOD is likely not absorbed intact from the gut, you may want to look for another product.. A number of other natural remedies may help shield the body from damage induced by free radicals. For instance, research indicates that substances such as green tea, resveratrol, turmeric, grapeseed, cocoa, and anthocyanins may help increase antioxidant activity and fight oxidative stress. In addition, nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene are known to act as antioxidants.

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend superoxide dismutase as a treatment for any condition. It's important to note that self-treating a condition with superoxide dismutase supplements and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using it, make sure to consult your primary care provider.

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