For maintaining a healthy life, antioxidants play a very crucial role. They have vast benefits which are very important for good health. If you take a good amount of antioxidants in your regular diet, the chances of cancer and lower as well as high blood pressure can be reduced. Also, antioxidants are very helpful in improving wrinkles and keeping your heart healthy. Their key role is to protect your body from free radicals found in bloodstream which can cause severe health problems and put your life at high risk. The responsible factors behind free radicals production are stress, consuming processed food, smoking, etc. Sometimes ultraviolet (UV) light and pollution can also be the reason for free radicals.
Let’s first talk what exactly an antioxidant is. Antioxidant is a powerful substance found in fresh fruits and vegetables you eat daily. It helps you achieve good health and prevent many diseases. It makes your body capable enough to fight against oxidation, a chemical reaction by which free-radicals are produced in your body. This chemical reaction leads to chain reactions which can damage many body cells. Thiols and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) are the two most common antioxidants which are used to terminate such chain reactions.
Most Common Health Benefits of Antioxidants
There’re many antioxidants which provide various benefits to different parts of your body. Beta-carotene, lycopene, flavonoids and proanthocyanidins are few common antioxidants which are highly beneficial for eye health, prostate health, heart health and urinary tract health respectively.
For Skin Health
Have you ever heard about photo-oxidative damage? It’s very harmful for your skin. Whenever your skin is exposed to the ultraviolet rays of sun, it produces photo-oxidative damage. The primary cause behind photo-oxidative is the formation of different types of reactive species of oxygen, such as: singlet oxygen, superoxide radicals and peroxide radicals. These forms of reactive oxygen are extremely harmful for you. They can damage the cellular lipids, proteins and DNA. Also, photo-oxidative damage can lead to severe skin diseases which include photodermatosis, erythema aka sunburn, premature ageing of the skin and sometimes skin cancer. Antioxidants are very helpful for your skin health as they provide protection against the high levels of ultraviolet rays which can damage your skin. To protect your skin from the reactive species of oxygen, you can use the antioxidant combinations of Astaxanthin (keto-carotenoid), followed by beta-carotene combined with Vitamin E.
For Eye Health
Antioxidants are very helpful for your eye health. Having too many free radicals in your body can cause severe eye diseases, including Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). A combination of the antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and the mineral zinc can reduce the risk of developing advanced stage of age-related macular degeneration in those who are suffering from intermediate or advanced AMD in one eye.
Note: People who suffer from age-related macular degeneration should take plenty of antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals, recommended by National Eye Institute.
For Immune System Support
Singlet oxygen, a reactive oxygen form, can harm your immune system. It has the ability to produce free radicals in your body which are harmful (discussed above). Astaxanthin and Spirulina are two essential antioxidants which are helpful for your immune system (both non-specific and specific). Also, they protect the cell membranes and cellular DNA from mutation. Astaxanthin effectively protects your body against singlet oxygen. It’s up to 10 times and 500 times stronger than other Carotenoids (including beta-carotene) and alpha tocopherol (Vitamin E) respectively. On the other hand, spirulina contains a variety of antioxidants and other substances which can boost up your immunity.
Recommended Intake of Antioxidants
Before taking any nutrient, be it vitamin or protein, you must know the proper amount of intake your body actually needs. Always try to get the antioxidants from the natural food sources instead of being supplemented. Though dietary supplements are not safe and effective, but should only be consumed if your doctor or any health expert recommends you. Unlike most nutrients, there’s no such RDI (recommended daily intake) for antioxidants. In fact, eating plenty of antioxidant-rich food items will definitely help you stay healthy and prevent many severe diseases. Make sure you eat between five to nine fruits and vegetables every day. Also, take small amount of nuts in your regular meals as well as drink wine in moderation.
Note: The RDI of antioxidants for children is different from adults. Children should not take more than 50% of antioxidants of the adult recommendation. Consult your child’s pediatrician before giving your child antioxidant supplements.
What foods are high in antioxidants?
Antioxidants are found in natural food sources, especially in fresh fruits and vegetables, such as: tomatoes, watermelon, papayas, carrots, green leafy vegetables, small red bean, wild blueberry, red kidney bean (dried), pinto bean, blueberry (cultivated), cranberry, artichoke (cooked), blackberry, russet potato (cooked), prune, raspberry, strawberry, red delicious apple, granny smith apple, pecan, sweet cherry, black plum, black bean (dried), plum, gala apple, and many more. These are few common antioxidants-enriched natural food sources which you should include in your regular diet. Also, you should drink green tea regularly to get essential catechin, a type of natural phenol and antioxidant.
Note: In order to get essential antioxidants for your body, your regular diet should be enriched with fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains.
Why Should You Go For Antioxidant Supplement?
In today’s polluted world, antioxidants become very essential for optimum health. Human body doesn’t produce antioxidants by itself. You have to get a good amount of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and enzymes from your regular diet. Antioxidants in natural food sources are always considered safe and effective. But sometimes your body doesn’t get the optimum amount of antioxidants on a daily basis from the natural food sources. Consequently, you should consider taking an Antioxidant Supplement in order to fulfil the adequate amount of protective antioxidants.