Antioxidants come up frequently in discussions about preventing diseases and good health. These powerful substances, mostly from the vegetables and fresh fruits we eat, prohibit (and in some instances even prevent) the oxidation of other molecules in the body.
The benefits of antioxidants are significant to good health because if free radicals are left unchecked, they can cause a wide range of chronic diseases and illnesses.
Antioxidants and Free Radicals
Our body naturally produces free radicals and the antioxidants to counteract their damaging effects. However, in most instances, free radicals far outweigh the naturally occurring antioxidants.
To maintain an optimal balance, a continual supply of external sources of antioxidants is necessary to obtain the full benefits of antioxidants. Antioxidants benefit your body by removing and neutralizing the free radicals from your bloodstream.
Different Antioxidants Benefit Different Parts of your Body
There is an array of antioxidants present in nature, and because they are so varied, various antioxidants offer benefits to multiple parts of the body.
For instance, lycopene is useful for helping maintain prostate health, beta-carotene (and other carotenoids) is very beneficial to eye health; flavonoids are especially helpful for heart health, and proanthocyanidins are beneficial for urinary tract health.
Antioxidants and Skin Health Benefits
When skin is exposed to high ultraviolet light levels, photo-oxidative damage is induced by the formation of various types of reactive species of oxygen, including superoxide radicals, singlet oxygen, and peroxide radicals.
These forms of reactive oxygen damage proteins, cellular lipids, and DNA. They are regarded as significant contributors to sunburn (erythema), skin cancers, premature aging of the skin, and photodermatoses.
Astaxanthin, followed by beta-carotene in combination with vitamin E, is one of the most potent antioxidant combos for protecting the skin from reactive oxygen species.
Antioxidants and Immune System Support
Singlet oxygen may compromise the immune system because it can catalyze free radicals’ production. Spirulina and Astaxanthin have been proven to enhance both the non-specific and specific immune system and protect cellular DNA and cell membranes from mutation.
Astaxanthin is the single most potent quencher of singlet oxygen. It is up to 10 times stronger than other carotenoids (even beta-carotene), and up to 500 times stronger than Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol). At the same time, Spirulina has an array of antioxidants and other substances that are advantageous in boosting immunity.
[Also Read: How to Support Immune System]
Additional Ways Antioxidants Help Benefit One’s Health
Increasing one’s antioxidant intake is necessary for optimum health, especially in today’s polluted environment. Because the body can’t keep up with antioxidant production, the right amount of these minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and phytochemicals, must come from one’s regular diet.
Boosting your antioxidant intake can help provide additional protection for the body against:
1. Heart Problems
Though not all antioxidants were proven to protect against cardiovascular disease (this doesn’t mean they would instead lead to it), some, like vitamin E, C, selenium, zinc, and copper, have potent cardioprotective activity. It’s been found that sufficient vitamin C intake can cut the risk of stroke by as much as fifty percent.
There are hundreds of multiple clinical trials that state that intake of plant-based diets loaded with vegetables and fresh fruits can protect the heart and prevent cardiovascular disorders . Veggies and Fruits are rich in antioxidants, and this proves the point.
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2. Eye Problems
The right dose of antioxidant vitamins can prevent the progression of and even reverse age-related macular degeneration and other vision problems. Reports by the AOA (American Optometric Association) state that antioxidant supplements vitamins E and C (natural form; d-alpha-tocopherol) can reduce cataract progression in less than 3 years .
Other vital antioxidants for vision health are zeaxanthin and lutein, which prevent age-related macular degeneration . And then, we have vitamin A, which protects and nourishes the retina and other eye structures, and is essential in preventing night blindness.
[Also Read: Best Supplements for Eye Health]
3. Aid Arthritis Treatment
One research has found that antioxidant intervention can improve the clinical symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and provides relief. This can be ascribed to the anti-inflammatory effects of antioxidants .
The Arthritis Foundation also recognizes the significance of antioxidants. The vitamin C in citrus fruits and anthocyanins in berries can combat free radicals responsible for arthritis symptoms .
4. Mood Disorders
Antioxidants were found to cut the risk of dementia and improve memory.
Antioxidant minerals and vitamins such as vitamins E and C, zinc and selenium, have been proven to work as natural “anti-depressants” particularly when taken in their most bioavailable, organic forms (e.g., zinc (glycinate), natural vitamin E complex, selenium yeast) – which have higher potency and offer more significant benefit overall than their inorganic forms.
Antioxidants also promote enhanced vascular health-improving microcirculation in the brain’s small blood vessels, thereby enhancing nutrient and oxygen delivery to nutrient hungry brain cells (i.e., neurons).
Antioxidants function as mediators in the CNS (central nervous system), thereby boosting cognitive health and preventing inflammation. Most brain diseases are linked with oxidative damage (or “oxidative stress”), which can be prevented and often improved with a higher dose of antioxidants.
These potent substances also play a role in preventing other ailments like Alzheimer’s disease . Higher intake of carotenoids (another branch of antioxidants) from foods such as yams, sweet potatoes, and carrots was associated with cognitive benefits in adults.
5. Immune System Problems
Consuming more vegetables and fruits is one definite way to boost our immunity . Antioxidants like vitamins C, A, E, and carotenoids strengthen the immune system.
A research study published in the EJCN (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition) says that dietary antioxidant supplements protect the immune system and contribute to healthy aging . They also help treat other issues related to weak immunity – like bronchial infections and colds.
[Also Read: Best Supplements to Boost Immune System]
Taking a right (and the required) amount of antioxidants is critical. Focus on getting as many fresh, whole foods rich in antioxidants (and supplements, if needed) as regularly – and your body will thank you.