Dietary Supplements


Antioxidants


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Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, enzymes nutrients and other compounds that protect the body's cells and tissues from the damaging effects of toxic molecules called free radicals.

What Exactly Is A Free Radical?


The short answer is that free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules responsible for aging, tissue damage, and other health issues ranging from cancer to heart disease.

Understanding in a bit more detail what free radicals actually are and what they do requires an understanding of molecules.

Helium AtomEach cell in the body consists of atoms which bond together to form molecules. Every atom consists of three types of particles: protons, neutrons and electrons. The protons and neutrons cluster together in the center of the atom (called the nucleus), with electrons 'orbiting' the nucleus. In a stable atom, an appropriate number of electrons orbit the atom. This number of electrons forms a "full shell." If the shell is incomplete, electrons from other atoms will try to bind with these electrons in an attempt to form a full shell. An atom with a full shell is considered stable. When these bonds are weak and break, the atom becomes unstable and a "free radical" is formed. This free radical then steals electrons from other atoms, which in turn cause that atom to become unstable, creating another free radical. This process repeats itself until the cells and tissue within the body become damaged. When referring to the kind of free radicals within the body, it is the element oxygen that "steals" the electrons and causes the atoms to become unstable, resulting in oxidation.

Some free radicals are naturally created by processes such as metabolism, and when oxygen is burned by the body. The problem arises when environmental factors such as stress, cigarette smoke, pollution, toxins, pesticides, processed foods, radiation, and other dangerous chemicals react with our bodies creating an overwhelming number of free radicals which the body is unable to handle. The number of free radicals within our bodies increases with age, however excess free radicals can cause premature aging and a compromised immune system, which in turn can lead to many health problems.

Antioxidants - What They Are And How They Can Help?

An antioxidant is a substance which protects cellular damage in the body by neutralizing the damaging effects of free radicals. It does this by "donating" one of its own electrons to the free radical, which in turn stops the free radical from stealing electrons from other atoms.

Antioxidants like vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Selenium can be ingested from many fruits and vegetables to help protect our cells from oxidation.

What Are The Types Of Antioxidants?

There are different substances which possess antioxidant properties, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds:

Vitamin C
   
Vitamin E
   
Vitamin A (beta-carotene)
   
Lycopene
   
Selenium/Manganese/Zinc
elements that form an essential part of various antioxidant enzymes
   
CoEnzyme Q10
essential to energy production and can also protect the body from destructive free radicals
   
Cysteine/Superoxide Dismutase/Glutathione Peroxidase (amino acids)
   
Phytonutrients
Many fruits and vegetables provide a type of antioxidant called phytonutrients. The term "phyto" stems from the Greek word meaning plant. Phytonutrients are organic components found in plants, the most common types being:

1) Carotenoids - Found in bright yellow, orange, and red healthy vegetables and fruits.

2) Flavonoids (Polyphenols) including Isoflavones (Phytoestrogens) - Found in brilliant blue, purple and emerald green vegetables and fruits, plus some yellow, red and orange not attributed to carotenoids.

3) Cruciferous vegetables - Found in vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and collard greens.

Most of the processed foods we eat are very low in antioxidants.

What Are the Sources of Antioxidants?


The following foods are considered high in antioxidants:

Fruits
Berries (cherry, blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, crowberry, blueberry, bilberry/wild blueberry, black currant), apricot, peach, pomegranate, grape, orange, plum, pineapple, kiwi fruit, grapefruit, prunes, dates, raisins, cantaloupe, mango.

Almonds & WalnutsVegetables
Chili pepper, red cabbage, peppers, parsley, artichoke, brussel sprouts, spinach, kale, lemon, ginger, red beets, broccoli, tomato, red peppers, carrots, butternut squash, pumpkins, sweet potato.

Nuts and Seeds
Pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds.

Legumes
Broad beans, black beans, pinto beans, soybeans.

Cereals
Barley, millet, oats, corn.

Spices
Rosemary, oregano, lemon balm, sage, marjoram, cloves, cinnamon.

How Much Do I Need?

Due to factors such as stress, environmental pollutants, processed food, cigarette smoke, and other toxins, our bodies are continually exposed to the damage from free radicals. Our bodies often become overwhelmed, like an overworked factory. When our bodies become overwhelmed, our immunity can become compromised and we are unable to adequately defend ourselves. By ensuring we have multiple servings of antioxidant fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, we can significantly both prevent and decrease this damage.

PomegranateAnother way we can ensure we are supplied with sufficient antioxidants is by using antioxidant supplements. As there are many available on the market (with several multivitamins that include antioxidant nutrients and herbs), choose a brand which offers a good selection of antioxidants, such as vitamins C, E, and A, as well as phytonutrients.

With antioxidants, don't assume "more is better." Consuming mega-doses of antioxidants can be harmful to the body due to possible toxicity and prescription medication interactions.


View information on vitamins and minerals and amino acids.





The information in this website is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, nor used to replace, diagnose, prescribe, or treat any ailment, nor does it replace consultation with your medical doctor and practitioner. It is intended only to enhance your knowledge in healing therapies. Please use it wisely. We care about your well-being.
 
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