Antioxidant vitamins and prevention of atherosclerosis in childhood

OBJECTIVE: To review the potential antioxidant effects of vitamins A, C and E in the prevention of atherosclerosis development during childhood, emphasizing the prevention of dyslipidemia. DATA SOURCES: Bibliographic search in scientific journals, technical books and official publications of the last 20 years. Lilacs, SciElo and Medline databases were searched for articles in Portuguese, Spanish and English using a combination of the following terms: "antioxidants", "atherosclerosis", "dyslipidemia", "lipid peroxidation", "childhood", "vitamin A", "vitamin C" and "vitamin E". DATA SYNTHESIS: There is an increasing prevalence of dyslipidemia in children and adolescents, probably related to changes in dietary habits and to the reduced practice of physical activities. The high plasma concentration of low-density lipoprotein (LDL-c) is a risk factor for atherosclerosis development. The consumption of nutrients rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, is very important to prevent lipid peroxidation. The low intake of these natural antioxidants sources suggests the need for nutritional intervention to achieve the daily ingestion targets of vitamins A, C and E. Vitamin supplementation is not recommended. CONCLUSIONS: Children should be encouraged to increase ingestion of fruits and vegetables due to their potential antioxidant effect, especially in the first years of life.

antioxidants; arteriosclerosis; dyslipidemias; lipid peroxidation; child

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