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Antioxidants Help Protect The Human Body

In recent years, antioxidants have moved to the forefront in the minds of people who are health conscious. This article looks at how they impact human beings.

Free Radical and Antioxidants

Antioxidants Can Help Protect Your Body

Antioxidants Fight Free Radicals

First What Are Antioxidants?

They are things which battle oxidants or free radicals. Free radicals are are the byproducts of oxidation which is a natural process. Inside our bodies oxidation occurs during inflammation, metabolic processes and aerobic respiration. Outside sources also can introduce free radicals into the body. Things like stress, pollution, certain foods, smoking, alcohol, X-rays and sunlight are sources of free radicals.

What Makes Free Radicals Bad?

All free radicals are not bad. There are times that our bodies need free radicals. Certain white blood cells will kill bacteria by releasing free radicals.

Free radicals are not all bad, however. That is because the body needs their services sometimes. There are certain white blood cells that release free radicals to kill bacteria invading the body. Free radicals are unstable atoms and molecules, they are very active. When free radicals roam the body they look for unpaired electrons to pair with.  Free radicals cause damage by altering DNA strands, causing LDL or low lipoprotein aka bad cholesterol to form plaque in the heart. These changes can also manifest as kidney disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease or vision loss. All of these occur at the cellular level. Wrinkles are an example of free radical damage that is visible to the eye.

Free Radicals vs. Antioxidants

Our bodies need antioxidants in order to combat the harmful effects of free radicals.  The human body’s defense system protects the DNA as well as other important body cells. Enzymes or antioxidants, like superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase, exist in the body and will neutralize free radicals.

In addition, the body needs antioxidant nutrients from food to help control free radicals. Antioxidant vitamins include vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene. The minerals selenium, manganese and zinc, though needed in minute quantities, are essential in activating enzyme antioxidants.

There are antioxidants that aren’t categorized as either enzyme or nutrient antioxidants  which have been studied and shown to be beneficial. Some examples are:

  1. Coenzyme Q10
  2. Uric Acid
  3. Phytochemicals
  4. Flavonoids
  5. Tannins
  6. Resveratrol.

Plant-based foods contain antioxidants.  Here are some food sources of antioxidants and their potential effects on the human body.

Antioxidant:

Vitamin E.

Food sources:

sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, swiss chard, avocado, peanuts, turnip greens

Potential effects on the body:

Protect fats in LDL from oxidation. Safeguards cell membranes.

Antioxidant:

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid

Food sources:

Papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, strawberries, pineapples, oranges

Potential effects on the body:

Neutralize free radicals inside cell membranes; transforms iron  a form that is better absorbed in the intestines

Antioxidant:

Carotenoids

Food sources:

carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, collard greens, tomatoes, kale

Potential effects on the body:

Neutralizes free radicals with possible potential as anti-cancer & anti-aging compound; boosts immunity and reduces the risk of several diseases.

Antioxidant:

Flavonoids

Food sources:

apples, apricots, pears, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, parsley, cabbage, onions, olives, green teas, black tea, whole wheat products, wine, oregano, citrus fruits

Potential effects on the body:

Boost cellular anti-oxidant mechanisms, maintains brain function, contributes to brain and heart health, may also improve vision and urinary tract health.

Antioxidant:

Resveratrol

Food sources:

red wine, red and purple grape juice, blueberries, cranberries, peanuts.

Potential effects on the body:

May protect the lining of heart vessels, may prevent inflammation, reduce low-density lipoprotein and formation of blood-clot.

Antioxidant:

Tannins

Food sources:

Pomegranates, nuts, lentils, red and white wine, green tea.

Potential effects on the body:

ability to trap some minerals, including iron- especially the iron in plant foods.

Antioxidant:

Manganese and selenium

Food sources:

seafood and meat

Potential effects on the body:

Needed for enzyme antioxidant activation

 

Antioxidant Benefits and Drawbacks

While that are plenty of studies showing the benefits of benefits of antioxidants just like all things there are downsides. When used naturally, antioxidants offer plenty of benefits. Antioxidants taken in supplement form showed mixed results. Taken in high doses, antioxidants doesn’t seem to offer the same benefits. Supplements tend to give higher doses of antioxidants than are received naturally.

 

Conclusion and Recommendations

In conclusion, we can make three recommendations regarding antioxidants:

1. Get your antioxidants from natural sources

2. Don’t take mega doses of antioxidants from supplements

3. Consult your physician prior to taking any antioxidant supplements

All information contained in this article is for informational and entertainment purposes only. This information is not meant to take the place of consultations from your personal medical professional.

 

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