Antioxidants are molecules that delay some types of cell damage. Antioxidants fight compounds called free radicals that cause harm in high levels in the body. Antioxidants can be either man-made, found naturally, or produced by our own bodies. Diseases that antioxidants can help fight are diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Why do you need antioxidants?
Free radicals are always being produced in the body. Free radicals are a molecule that is made in reaction to the environment or stressors. There are certain things that can promote more production of free radicals in your body. These are things like air pollutants, cigarette smoke, alcohol intake, toxins, high blood sugar levels, excessive sunbathing, bacterial, fungal, or viral infections, antioxidant deficiency, or intense and prolonged exercise.
Without antioxidants free radicals could cause a lot of harm very quickly. Finding the balance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body is important. When there are more free radicals than antioxidants in the body, it puts the body in an oxidative stress state.
Oxidative stress has been linked to conditions such as cancer, macular degeneration, atherosclerosis, heart disease, arthritis, stroke, respiratory disease, immune deficiency, emphysema, Parkinson’s disease, and other inflammatory conditions.
How can I get the antioxidants I need?
Sources of antioxidants that you need are vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, selenium, manganese, and zeaxanthin. Each antioxidant is important, and works with the body in different ways. This is why it is important to get a wide range of different antioxidants than just focusing on one.
Supplements of a certain antioxidant is not always a wise choice. Having too much of one antioxidant can cause toxicity in the body.
Antioxidants can be found in foods. The best source of antioxidants are plant based foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
Foods that are high in antioxidants are dairy, eggs, liver, berries, oranges, bell peppers, nuts, seeds, sunflower oil, carrots, peas, spinach, mangoes, tomatoes, watermelon, corn, papaya, rice, wheat, legumes, eggplants, green or black teas, red grapes, dark chocolate, pomegranates, goji berries, blueberries, apples, broccoli, and lentils.
- To get vitamin A in your diet, focus on eating dairy, eggs and liver.
- Vitamin C rich foods are berries, oranges, and bell peppers.
- Vitamin E rich foods are nuts, seeds, sunflower oil, and leafy greens.
- Beta-carotene can be found in carrots, peas, and mangoes.
- Lycopene is found in tomatoes, and watermelon.
- Lutein foods are leafy greens, corn, papaya, and oranges.
- Selenium can be found in rice, corn, wheat, and nuts, eggs, cheese, and legumes.
It is important to not focus on one specific antioxidant, but have a well rounded diet to have all of them to help your body work its best.
High dose supplements of antioxidants may be harmful for the body. A well rounded diet that includes different types of antioxidants is important for the body to be overall healthy.
Antioxidants are molecules that fight compounds in the body that cause certain types of cell damage. This cell damage can be harmful to the body and cause diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Having too many free radicals, or unstable molecules in the body can be harmful.
What is an antioxidant? Why do you need them? A varied diet can provide you with the antioxidants you need! #HealthSurgeon