Basic Health Benefits of Antioxidants You Should Be Aware Of
Vitamins A, C and E — what do they have in common*? These are three of the major antioxidant vitamins found in fruits and vegetables. Such compounds have gained a reputation for being cancer-fighting nutrients. However, not many people realize, or even understand, all the other health benefits of antioxidants.
*A little bit of trivia: When strung together, the 3 vitamin alphabets spell “ACE”, which makes it easy to remember these nutrients are tops for health :-)
How Do Antioxidants Work?
Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and enzymes that can thwart the damaging effects of oxidation in the tissues. Oxidation is a natural process that happens when oxygen interacts with the cells in our body, creating some type of change.
Oxidation: Good or Bad?
For instance, we can see that apple slices would turn brown a few minutes after being cut. This is due to oxygen entering the cell linings of the fruit. The rust on an iron nail after it comes into contact with water is also oxidation at work.
In humans, an example would be a skin cut wherein dead cells are replaced by fresh, new cells. This results in the cut skin healing after some time. Inside the body, white blood cells are known to use oxidation to kill harmful bacteria.
Some studies suggest that the stress of oxidation in the body brings about chronic diseases like cancer, stroke, cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It is widely believed that antioxidants may help prevent these ailments — this is where they come into play.
The Concept of Free Radicals
So, how do antioxidants counter oxidation? These nutrients neutralize the free radicals in the cells.
Free radicals are atoms, molecules or ions which have an unpaired electron in their outermost orbital — this makes them very unstable.
These radicals would scavenge the body to grab or donate electrons, resulting in damage to cells, proteins and genetic material.
However, avoiding free radicals is almost impossible since these elements come from both endogenous (or internal) and exogenous (i.e. external) sources.
Arresting Free Radical Damage
Within our body, free radicals develop as the result of metabolism, aerobic respiration and inflammation. On the other hand, the environment we are in can generate free radicals as well. This include sources such as pollution, stress, smoking, alcohol consumption and exposure to X-rays.
Free radicals don’t just damage one molecule; they can trigger a chain reaction. For example, a free radical which oxidizes a fatty acid molecule changes the latter into another free radical, which would in turn cause oxidative damage to the next molecule. Over time, the natural defense system of the body gets impacted, and the damage manifests as various chronic diseases.
Antioxidants neutralize free radical damage by having themselves oxidized. The process can be classified into two actions: preventive and chain-breaking.
Preventive action means that the antioxidant stabilizes a free radical, so no stealing or releasing of an electron occurs to create instability. Chain-breaking antioxidants do the job of slowing or stopping oxidative processes after they have started.
What are the Antioxidant Health Benefits?
One of the essential health benefits of antioxidants is improved immunity. When our natural defense system is enhanced, our bodies are less likely to get afflicted with diseases like cancer and stroke.
Antioxidants not only protect us from serious ailments but even against common illnesses like colds.
Specific parts and functions of the body which show positive effects include the heart, skin, cells and fertility, as summarized below.
In a study conducted by the Harvard Medical School, it was discovered that antioxidants found in tea and coffee prevent the oxidation of fats which causes widespread inflammation and significantly increases heart disease risks. This is a definite plus point for cardiovascular health.
Anti-aging and Younger Skin
Antioxidants protect the skin from the damaging effects of harmful UV rays of the sun, by guarding the cells inside the body to prevent damage. Vitamins C and E, as well as the mineral selenium, are specifically instrumental in this regard.
In the arena of reverse aging, Vitamin A has long been considered a key ingredient to healthy and young-looking skin. This nutrient not only keeps the skin hydrated but also reduces breakouts, red marks and brown spots. It helps the body create new and healthy skin cells, and supports the production of ceramines and glycosaminoglycan to keep the skin firm and young-looking.
It’s not surprising that many antioxidant supplements which promise graceful aging have vitamin A as one of their top ingredients.
Cellular Repair and Growth
Antioxidants also promote cell and tissue regeneration, enabling the body to repair itself. In particular, Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, helps repair and grow tissues throughout the body; it is also required for the production of collagen, a protein responsible for maintaining skin elasticity and strength.
Male Infertility Aid
Vitamins E and C, and carnitine, have been found to have a positive impact on the male reproductive system and for treating fertility problems. It has been suggested that vitamin C decreases oxidative damage on sperms, while carnitine protects their membranes and improves motility. And vitamin E has been linked to successful treatment of infertile men.
Sources of Potent Antioxidants
The antioxidants that our body needs can come naturally from the food we eat or from dietary supplements we take. Each has its place when fulfilling the requirements of healthy living. At times, the nutrients from food can be deficient, either in amount or potency; thus, supplementation is actually a prudent approach to nourish the body.
Foods Rich in Antioxidants
Many health experts recommend that an adult take at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day to get the most out of these nutritious foods.
This is not without reason, since such types of food are loaded with antioxidants, as tabled below.
|Vitamin A||Potato, carrots, squash, broccoli, lettuce, tuna fish|
|Vitamin C||Oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, cantaloupe, green leafy vegetables, pepper, tomatoes, potatoes|
|Vitamin E||Avocado, olives, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil, walnuts, seeds, almonds, peanut, wheat germ, liver|
|Selenium||Chicken, pork, beef, seafood, brown rice, whole wheat bread, Brazil nuts|
Fruits like cranberry, blueberry, blackberry, prune and strawberry are also excellent sources of antioxidants. These can be regarded as natural supplements for health with their tremendous amount of various antioxidants that can help improve your immune system.
Quality Dietary Supplements
Apart from the primary ones discussed here, there are many more antioxidants that are good for the body. These include beta-carotene, folic acid (vitamin B9), CoQ10, Resveratrol, to name a few.
With the meals we eat each day, it can be hard to assure all the useful antioxidants are included, let alone in sufficient dosage. Therefore, taking supplement capsules which contain potent antioxidant vitamins and minerals can really be helpful.
Rather than pop a handful of these with different ingredients, it is practical to consider taking an all-in-one, such as this Global Healing Center’s top supplement known as Cell Fuzion.
Take Good Care of Your Nutrition Today
Though many of us know that eating well is a key factor of healthy living, the discipline to do so may not be deeply entrenched. It’s not surprising that some in our midst are still avoiding certain vegetables or lacking in sufficient intake of fruits.
But now that you are aware of the specific need for certain antioxidants, it becomes of paramount importance to ensure your diet is appropriately loaded with these good nutrients. And just in case you fall short, there’s no need to worry about the nutritional gap because you can turn to good supplements.
If you are still looking, give serious attention to Cell Fuzion; or any other health products with similar natural ingredients and potency. There’s no reason not to reap the full health benefits of antioxidants. Live well, in the pink of health, always.