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  • 2012

Antioxidants may decrease mortality in critically ill patients

Published on

05 September 2012

According to a new Canadian review, supplementation with high-dose antioxidant vitamins and trace elements may reduce mortality risk of patients with greater severity of illness, particularly those at high risk of death.

This systematic review and meta-analysis included 21 randomized controlled trials evaluating the potential effects of antioxidant vitamin and trace element therapy on the overall mortality risk of critically ill adult patients (1). The analysis showed that high-dose antioxidant supplementation was associated with a significant reduction in mortality. In addition, the data showed a trend towards a reduction in infectious complications and a significant decrease of the duration of mechanical ventilation in the patients.

The researchers concluded that antioxidant supplementation in the critically ill may be able to significantly reduce overall mortality. As critical illness is characterized by oxidative stress with antioxidant depletion, supplementation of antioxidant micronutrients, such as vitamins C and E and selenium, could restore antioxidant status, thus improving survival rate. The treatment’s effects may be greatest in patients with greater severity of illness and may depend on the type of intervention and/or the method of antioxidant administration. In the last two decades, several clinical trials have evaluated the role of antioxidant micronutrients as a monotherapy or as part of an antioxidant strategy for critically ill patients in combined therapy. According to the scientists, further researchers are warranted to define the optimal combination, optimal dose and timing of supplementing antioxidant micronutrients.


  1. Manzanares W. et al. Antioxidant micronutrients in the critically ill: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Critical Care. 2012; 16:R66.

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