Antioxidants are a popular topic when it comes to aging and supplementation.
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit oxidation and fight against cell damage. They protect against many diseases and aging. Antioxidants fight free radicals and reduce cell damage.
What are free radicals?
Oxidation is a form of a chemical reaction that occurs in your body. During this process, free radicals are produced as by-products that can damage your cells.
How do free radicals cause damage?
Free radical damage can occur anywhere in your body. If it happens in your heart blood pressure can rise, as well as make you prone to heart attacks.
If it occurs in your eyes you can develop cataracts and degeneration of the macula, which reduces your vision.
Oxidation damage in kidneys leads to chronic kidney disease.
Oxidation can also damage your brain and neurological system, which can cause Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Free radical damage to the skin will alter your skin structure, leading to wrinkles, acne, eczema and even skin cancer.
Free radicals can damage your cells and kill them. This can lead to illness and many diseases or even death. Free radical cell damage is linked with aging.
Stressful situations can exaggerate the oxidation process and formation of free radicals. Same goes for smoking – cigarette smoke can damage your skin faster than you think because of free radical damage, and make you look much older than you really are.
Antioxidants shield us against free radical damage. They are found as naturally occurring substances in our bodies as well as in certain foods and industrial chemicals, which are added to food products and supplements.
Examples of Antioxidants:
* Naturally occurring antioxidants in the body– Enzymes like Catalase, Glutathione
* Vitamins like Vitamin A, C, E, K
* Minerals like Zink, Selenium, magnesium, copper
* Carotenoids, Flavonoids and phenolic acids
* Antioxidants in food products and chemical supplements that are artificially added
There are certain foods with strong antioxidant capabilities, such as
- Berries – blue berries, strawberries, blackberries
- Fruits like Soursop, orange, grapes, raisins, apple, Pomegranate, banana, grapefruit, pears
- Spices –cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cloves, cumin
- Vegetables – bell pepper, broccoli
Because of recent research, scientists are able to understand how antioxidant protection occurs in our bodies. The key is to have enough antioxidants to counteract the free radicals that are formed in the body. If the body is unable to produce enough antioxidants from within to destroy all the free radicals which are made, then it’s time to get additional antioxidants from food and supplements.
If you’re unable to consume a balanced nutritious diet, or your eating habits aren’t healthy, the next best thing is to take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. However, the absorption of vitamins and minerals from supplements is not as good as what you gain by consuming a nutritious diet.
Prevention is better than cure when it comes to illness. Therefore, appropriate use of antioxidants will help fight many diseases and protect against aging.
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