When you hear the word “antioxidants,” what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of oranges, blueberries, and other foods that are rich in Vitamin C. Indeed, these and other Vitamin C-rich foods are excellent sources of antioxidants. However, there are many more natural antioxidant compounds than just Vitamin C that are beneficial to human health. These little known but extremely important substances help the body neutralize toxins and prevent cell damage from free radicals (highly reactive molecules that cause oxidation). Put simply, antioxidants are nature’s way of balancing out all the things humans put into our bodies that wreak havoc on our endocrine system.
What Are Antioxidants?
An antioxidant is a substance that protects the body against damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that occur naturally as a result of metabolism, UV light, pollution, and even the aging process. These unstable molecules are looking for some electrons to steal, and in the process, they can damage nearby cells. Antioxidants are molecules that can donate their electrons to free radicals without becoming unstable themselves. After donating their electrons, antioxidants become oxidized and we must eat more antioxidants to reduce those back down to their original state. Antioxidants are important because they help the body stay healthy by fighting harmful processes like aging and cell damage. Nutritionists recommend eating a wide variety of antioxidant-rich foods to stay healthy.
Why Do We Need Antioxidants?
Free radicals are a natural by-product of cellular metabolism. Essentially, when our bodies use oxygen to break down nutrients and produce energy, they also produce free radicals as a by-product of that metabolic process. When free radicals build up in the body, they can wreak havoc on tissues and organs by causing oxidative damage to cells, tissues, and DNA. When this happens, it can lead to all kinds of diseases and disorders, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Moreover, because antioxidants are present at low levels in the body, we need to get them from our diets to help prevent oxidative damage and its resulting health conditions.
Vitamin C and the Benefits of Being an Antioxidant
Vitamin C is perhaps the most well-known antioxidant. It is found in many fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, etc.), bell peppers, broccoli, kiwis, strawberries, papaya, and many others. As an antioxidant, Vitamin C helps the body repair damage to blood vessels, skin, and other tissues caused by free radicals. It also helps produce collagen, which is important for healthy skin, blood vessels, teeth, bones, and gums. Moreover, Vitamin C is required for the proper functioning of the immune system. It helps maintain a healthy metabolism, prevents iron deficiency, and supports healthy brain and nerve function. Worryingly, Vitamin C is not very well-stored in the body, which means that you need to be constantly consuming it.
Vitamin A and the Many Benefits of Being an Antioxidant
Another very important antioxidant is Vitamin A, also known as retinol. This vitamin is found in many vegetables, especially carrots, broccoli, spinach, and sweet potatoes. It is also found in fish oils, dairy, and eggs. Dietary Vitamin A is predominantly found in the form of beta-carotene, which is a precursor to retinol, the active form of Vitamin A that is needed by the human body. Vitamin A is an extremely important antioxidant that is needed for healthy eyes and vision. It also supports healthy skin, nerves, and immunity. It is believed that Vitamin A can also reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Vitamin A is not stored very well in the human body and must be consumed regularly.
Vitamin E and the Many Benefits of Being an Antioxidant
Vitamin E is another important antioxidant that is found in many foods, including sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, and spinach. It is also found in vegetable oils, wheat germ, and many other foods. Vitamin E is important for maintaining good health, as it is another antioxidant that fights oxidative damage in the body resulting from free radicals. Because of this, Vitamin E can help prevent cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and diseases associated with aging. It can also be helpful for people with neurological disorders, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Vitamin E is not stored very well in the body and must be consumed regularly in the diet.
Glutathione: The Master Antioxidant
Although there are many beneficial antioxidants, there is one that stands out above the rest. This one compound acts as a powerful antioxidant, supports a strong immune system, and has potent anti-aging properties. This compound is known as glutathione, and it is naturally produced in the body through amino acid metabolism. So what is glutathione? It’s an antioxidant, a detoxifier, and a master regulator that helps with everything from preventing wrinkles to regulating metabolism! It is not surprising, then, that researchers have found that one of the most effective ways to increase the body’s antioxidant capacity and lower oxidative stress is through the intake of glutathione precursors such as N-acetyl cysteine, whey protein and cysteine. Supplementing with NMN is another highly efficient way of increasing your body’s antioxidant capacity and reducing the telltale signs of ageing.
Antioxidants are natural compounds that prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. They also prevent premature aging caused by UV rays. Although there are many different antioxidants, the most important ones are Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin A. The best source of antioxidants is fruits and vegetables. The best antioxidant is glutathione, which can be supplemented through amino acids like N-acetyl cysteine, whey protein, and cysteine. These can help the body produce more glutathione and lower oxidative stress.