Antioxidants are a class of molecules that are capable of inhibiting the oxidation of another molecule. Your body naturally circulates various nutrients in your body due to their antioxidant properties. It also manufactures antioxidant enzymes in order to control free radical chain reactions. They are a special class of micronutrients (the term “micronutrient” means that only minuscule amounts are required to provide essential support for vital metabolic functions). Antioxidants block harmful chemical reactions caused by oxidation, which is the destructive effect of oxygen and other oxidizing agents on the molecular components of cells.
Free radicals create a destructive process in our cells, causing the molecules within the cells to become unstable. They may even be a big player in the formation of cancerous cells by a “chain-reaction” effect, causing other cells to become damaged. Because of the inherent instability of free-radicals, they try to attack other healthy cells to get stable themselves. This causes the once-healthy cells to react in the same way, attacking others in an never-ending attempt for cellular stability.
Why You Should Use an Antioxidant Supplement
Relieve natural oxidative stress
Oxidative stress is the oxidative damage that results from an imbalance between free radicals and your body’s store of antioxidants. According to the free radical theory of aging (FRTA), organisms age because of accumulated free radical damage to cells and DNA. The theory states that cumulative damage to cell components and connective tissue leads to wrinkles, decreased physical capability, increased susceptibility to disease and death. Though the free radical theory of aging remains controversial, oxidative stress contributes to degenerative conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy and more
The Power of Antioxidants Against Free Radicals
Free radicals forage through your body looking for electrons to leach onto. They need pairs of electrons in order to be stable and they frantically seek molecules to achieve this. Free radicals will take (or leave) an electron, whether it’s available or not, including those in fragile DNA molecules, proteins and fats. Antioxidants stop free radical damage to molecules by accepting or donating an electron to make it stable. Antioxidants are unique in that they remain stable when they donate an electron. Antioxidants sources are often discussed in terms of their free radical scavenging abilities.
The body naturally produces some antioxidants, like glutathione, ubiquinol, and uric acid. You likely ingest many others through diet or supplements. Some of the strongest antioxidants come from fruits and vegetables in their unique plant-based compounds called phytochemicals. Here are a few examples:
Found most abundantly in berries, eggplant, red cabbage, red grapes, and other richly-colored food plants, anthocyanins are purple-colored pigments common to all plants. They’re what make blueberries blue and raspberries red. Anthocyanins provide a broad range of health benefits.
Polyphenols are a group of several thousand phytochemicals with antioxidant properties. You often hear about the polyphenols in chocolate, but scientists are pursuing and publishing more and more research on the polyphenol called curcumin, the active curcuminoid compound in turmeric.
These polyphenol turmeric compounds have been evaluated for a myriad of health benefits. Curcuminoids protect and promote health by activating the immune system, protecting the brain, and influencing gene expression among other beneficial effects.
Beta-carotene is a reddish orange pigment found naturally in carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, mangos, spinach, squash, tomato, cantaloupe, peaches. Inside the body, it’s converted into vitamin A. It’s important to note that while beta-carotene itself is a powerful antioxidant, the results of some research has questioned whether vitamin A has any antioxidant activity at all.
Lycopene is a bright red pigment found in tomatoes, watermelons, and papayas. Like beta-carotene, lycopene is a carotenoid—a type of phytochemical with antioxidant properties. Lycopene contributes to a lower risk of prostate cancer, blood clots, and stroke.
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, supports the immune system and good health all around. It also happens to be an antioxidant. Good sources of vitamin C include red and yellow bell peppers, kiwis, broccoli, cabbage, strawberries, and, of course, citrus fruits like oranges and lemons.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin known for its antioxidant properties. Sunflower and safflower oil, green veggies, nuts, and seeds are rich sources of this antioxidant. Vitamin E is also readily available in both multivitamins and vitamin-E supplements.
Selenium is an essential mineral and antioxidant that’s critical for thyroid health. Our bodies do not produce selenium, so we must get it from dietary sources or supplements. Brazil nuts, button and shiitake mushrooms, lima beans, chia seeds, and brown rice are all good food sources of selenium.
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