You may have about the importance of antioxidants in the diet, and their possible role in fighting a variety of illnesses, including some kinds of cancer, age related degeneration and heart disease.
You could also be forgiven for thinking that antioxidant vitamins are things that come in pills, powders and capsules. The marketing of antioxidant vitamin supplements, such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E, is intense and relentless. While vitamin supplements can be helpful, however, the majority of antioxidant vitamins should come from food, not from vitamin supplements.
It is important to understand how antioxidant vitamins work to protect the body from harm. Antioxidants work by combining with and neutralizing harmful elements known collectively as free radicals. Free radicals are produced naturally by the body, as a consequence of a number of natural bodily processes. Most of the time, the body is able to neutralize and eliminate these free radicals on its own.
However, stresses such as environmental pollution, a weakened immune system, UV radiation and alcohol consumption can lower the body’s ability to fight these free radicals.
Excessive free radicals in the human body can cause damage to the structure and function of the various organs and systems in the body. Recent studies have implicated free radicals in a number of diseases, including cancer and heart disease. In addition, free radicals are thought to play a significant role in the aging process.
It is estimated that foods contain some 4,000 different compounds that have antioxidant qualities. Since only a small number of these compounds have been identified, and a lesser amount yet have been synthesized, it is easy to see why it is so hard for vitamin supplements to replace a healthy diet. Healthy, antioxidant containing foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, trace elements and other micronutrients in addition to the antioxidants that have been identified by science.
There are many major vitamins that have been found to have strong antioxidant qualities. Perhaps the most well known, and the most studied, of these antioxidant vitamins is vitamin C. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is water soluble and is found in all the tissues and fluids of the body. Since vitamin C is not stored in the body, it is important that everyone’s diet contain plenty of vitamin C.
Good sources of vitamin C in the diet include citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, green peppers, broccoli, strawberries, cabbage and potatoes. Dark green leafy vegetables are also good sources of vitamin C.
Vitamin E is another popular member of the antioxidant family, and it is thought to play an important role in protecting the body from aging. Vitamin E may not be the cure all wonder that it was once thought to be, but it is still an important protector of the body.
Good sources of dietary vitamin E include nuts, seeds, wheat germ, whole grain breads, vegetable oil, fish oil and dark green leafy vegetables.
Beta carotene is also an important antioxidant vitamin, and it is important to a number of bodily processes. The role of beta carotene in the natural world is to protect the skins of yellow and orange vegetables and fruits from the damaging rays of the sun. It is believed that beta carotene plays the same sort of role in human nutrition. That is, beta carotene is thought to be important in protecting people from the damage caused by environmental pollution, UV rays, etc.
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Beta carotene rich foods include yellow and orange vegetables and fruits such as carrots, yellow squash, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, peaches and apricots. In addition, dark green leafy vegetables such as collard greens and broccoli, and fruits like tomatoes, also contain significant levels of beta carotene.
Selenium is an important mineral thought to share many traits with antioxidants. Selenium in particular has been studied for its ability to prevent and reverse cell damage. Scientists continue to focus on this cell protecting ability as a possible cancer fighter.
Selenium is one good example of why it is important to get the nutrients you need from food, not from vitamin supplements. High levels of selenium can be toxic, so supplementation is not recommended. Foods high in selenium, such as fish, shellfish, red meat, poultry, eggs, garlic and whole grains, however, are recommended. In addition to these sources of selenium, fruits and vegetables that are grown in selenium rich soils are also good sources of this important mineral.
Antioxidant supplements play a protective role for our general health including the health of our hair. Antioxidants supplements are supposed to slow down the oxidation reactions which are brought about by the free radicals. The Free radicals are highly reactive unstable atoms generated in our body that can damage cells leading to a number of diseases and ageing.According to the Free-radical theory of aging, these highly reactive oxygen species (ROS), damage the DNA, proteins and other cellular structures like the cell membranes and cell organelles.
The reaction of free radicals within cells, and subsequent damage has been linked to a range of disorders and chronic diseases including cancer, arthritis, atherosclerosis, alzheimer’s and diabetes and inflammatory conditions
Antioxidants are able to slow down or block these dangerous reactions in the body. They do it either by reacting with intermediates and halting the oxidation reaction directly. They react with the free radicals and prevent the oxidation reaction from occurring.
Antioxidants supplements can be taken as dietary supplements or taken as tablets and capsules. Studies suggest those dietary antioxidants supplements provide a range of are benefits for our health. However, excess antioxidant supplementation may be counter-productive. Diet carrying antioxidant supplements A healthy and balanced diet containing antioxidant supplements plays a pivotal role in retaining your hair’s health. Some of the herbal nutrition supplements and some fruits which contain antioxidants serve as natural medications for hair loss.
Antioxidant food supplements are found in various forms – vegetables, fruits, grain cereals, legumes, nuts, etc.
The sources of antioxidants include fruits (berries and peppers, apple skins, cider, wine), vegetables (spinach, tea leaves), fungi (mushrooms), whole grain cereals (hops, barley, millet and maize), nuts (pecans, pistachios, almonds), beans (cacao including chocolate, coffee). Polyphenol antioxidants This type of antioxidant is characterized by the presence of several phenol functions. It is found in a wide array of phytonutrient-bearing foods. Examples include – most of the legumes; fruits like apples, blackberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, grapes, pears, plums, raspberries, and strawberries; vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, celery, onion and parsley. All the above are rich sources of polyphenol antioxidants.Alternative sources of polyphenol antioxidant include red wine, chocolate, green tea, olive oil, bee pollen and several grains. Antioxidant vitaminsSome of the vitamins that are good sources of antioxidants,. the antioxidant vitamins are–vitamins A, C and E.
The animal form of vitamin A is retinol. It is a yellow, fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin found in animal foods such as eggs, liver, whole milk and fortified foods like fat-reduced milk, cereals and breads. Vitamin A, are the dark-colored pigments found in plant foods like fruits and vegetables (especially dark green leafy ones) and include spinach, cantaloupe, carrots, sweet potatoes and squash.
Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant helpful in maintaining healthy hair. Sources of this vitamin are foods such as citrus fruits, kiwi, pineapple, tomatoes, green peppers, potatoes with their skins and dark green vegetables. The daily recommended dose for vitamin C is 60 mg.
It increases scalp circulation which is crucial for hair growth. You get vitamin E from foods like wheat germ oil, soybeans, raw seeds ad nuts, dried beans and leafy green vegetables. The daily recommended dose for vitamin E is up to 400 IU.
Green tea has a long history of healthful benefits and its qualities are significantly more effective than black tea. Both teas come from the carnellia sinensis plant but green tea leaves are steamed rather than fermented like black and oolong teas. This prevents a powerful anti-oxidant, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), from being oxidized and therefore diminished.
Most of us have heard of the positive effects red wine can have on a fatty diet and its healthful benefits on heart disease. High amounts of catechins polyphenols, particularly EGCG, are present in green tea. And EGCG has twice as much resveratrol as red wine, making it a powerful weapon towards lowering cholesterol, inhibiting blood clots and negating the effects of a fatty diet.
EGCG is also used to treat diabetes and is reported to have glucose-lowering effects. In addition glucose can cause a person to feel hunger and by controlling insulin levels, you control appetite. Try drinking a mug of green tea at the first hunger pain and you are well on your way to managing your appetite.
Thermogenesis literally means heat generation. Green tea increases thermogenesis in the body, becoming a potent appetite suppressant and increasing fat oxidation, helping the body to use fat as an energy source. This means the body is preferentially burning fat over protein.
Green tea also raises the body’s metabolism, increasing the rate at which calories are burned. In a recent study, the combination of green tea and caffeine burned more calories than those given a placebo.
Add to its thermogenesis benefits, green tea also has energy-boosting properties, which makes it a perfect breakfast tea or mid-afternoon pick me up.
Other Healthful Benefits
There are many other conditions in which green tea is reputed to be helpful:
Killing cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells untouched
Treating Rheumatoid arthritis
Lowering LDL cholesterol
Preventing thrombosis which causes heart attacks and strokes
Addressing cardiovascular disease by inhibiting abnormal formation of blood clots
Improving impaired immune function
Stopping certain neurodegenerative diseases (such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s)
Treating multiple sclerosis
Preventing tooth decay by killing the bacteria that causes dental plaque
When you compare the heath benefits of green tea with the harmful effects of regular and diet soda, coffee and other damaging drinks, it is easy to see why green tea has a long and successful history of benefiting the drinker.
Adding Green Tea to Your Diet
Green tea has become so popular that it can be found in mainstream grocery stores as well as gas stations and convenience stores. There are many flavors and varieties of green teas so you will be sure to find a combination of flavors you’ll enjoy.
Consider also adding green tea water to some cooked foods. Adding tea to a pot of boiling pasta will affect the flavor in a fresh new way. Toss that same pasta with pine nuts, pesto and a dash of olive oil and you have a healthful dish with many antioxidant properties. Challenge yourself to find new and exciting ways to add green tea to your diet.
Antioxidants are a class of nutrients that protect the body from damage caused by different factors, most importantly oxidative damage caused by substances called free radicals. Free radicals are known as “reactive oxygen species”, or ROS. They are produced when your body uses oxygen for energy. Just as fire emits smoke as a by-product, ROS are emitted from the conversion of oxygen to energy in the human body, eventually causing oxidative damage to body systems. Free radicals are also created when the body is exposed to pollution, cigarette smoke, car exhaust and other harmful environmental toxins.
There are different types of antioxidants, and most work better when paired with other antioxidants. This is called synergism. Vitamins can be antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E. The tripeptide glutathione, loosely classified as an amino acid, acts as an antioxidant, along with other true amino acids such as methionine. The raw herbs and vegetables we consume contain natural antioxidants called bioflavonoids and carotenoids, which are effective antioxidants on their own, but are more effective when synergistically combined with other antioxidants. Together these nutrients protect your cells from electron robbery at the hands of larcenous free radicals, protecting the body from disease and slowing the inevitable signs of aging.
Antioxidants are important supplements for everyone, but especially for those who exercise on a regular basis. The rational is that exercise is a highly oxidative process and, as a consequence, produces free radicals from aerobic metabolism. Antioxidant compounds help alleviate this process.
• minimizes the damage from free radicals
• protects against cell damage
• may assist with prevention of debilitating diseases
Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for African-American men and women? The disease claims the lives of over 100,000 annually. Perhaps due to this alarming number, much of scientific researches conducted in the US today have recently been focused on how antioxidant vitamins may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Previous studies have shown that antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta carotene (a from of vitamin A), have potential health-promoting properties. The data on antioxidant vitamins is incomplete for the most part but up to 30 percent of Americans are already taking some form of antioxidant vitamin supplement along with their diet.
Due to the lack of sufficient data to support the success of antioxidant vitamins supplement against cardiovascular diseases and other such degenerative illnesses, the American Heart Association does not recommend using antioxidant vitamins supplements. However, they do not want to put a stop to our continued taking of antioxidant vitamins, the ones found in nature and in the foods that we eat.
Some of the basic food groups that prove to be rich sources of antioxidant vitamins are the following:
• Breads, cereals, pasta, and starchy vegetables (such as potatoes, yam, squash, etc.)
• Fruits and vegetables
• Fat-free milk and low-fat dairy products
• Lean meat, fish, and poultry
Incidentally, if you pattern your diet after this basic food group, you not only ingest a high level of natural antioxidant vitamins, but you also keep fat buildup in your body. Eating a variety of foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol will provide a rich natural source of antioxidant vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
But what exactly do antioxidant vitamins do?
Oxygen radicals are everywhere because we live in an atmosphere that contains oxygen. Oxidation is a process that naturally occurs in the body and a natural consequence of it are the radical particles that have since been dubbed as “free radicals.”
Scientists point to these so-called free radicals as the culprits when it comes to most degenerative diseases. Free radicals are blamed for even the simplest of illnesses, such as colds. There is an increasing body of evidence that oxidative stress is linked to many diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, cataracts, and arthritis. Our strongest defenses against these harmful free radicals are antioxidant vitamins which are contained in the foods that we eat.
Aging? Sure, it’s a fact of life. But what if there was a way to slow down the process, perhaps even cure it, what would you say?
The aging process brings with it not only wrinkly skin or tired joints and muscles. Those can be tolerated. After all, they are part of the natural cycle of life. But what isn’t natural is disease. They are disorders – unnatural conditions of the body.
Aging is caused by harmful molecules called “free radicals.” This was according to Denham Harman, M.D., Ph.D., who first proposed the theory in the 1950s. Since then, scientists and researchers have sought to understand the body’s oxidation process and free radicals contribute in its acceleration. It seemed that these so-called free radicals are rogue oxygen molecules that are highly unstable and which have harmful effects to the body.
There is growing evidence that the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), including free radicals, is behind the aging process and initiation of age-related disease. The reason free radicals are highly unstable is that they have an unpaired electron which they try to recompense by stealing an electron from a stable molecule. This actually sets off a chain reaction that can damage the body’s proteins and cell membranes, weaken the cell’s natural defenses, and disrupt the cell’s DNA. Such damage, when accumulated, could lead to degenerative conditions.
Fortunately, nature has provided us with a system to help control free radicals. Antioxidants are natural enemies of free radicals because one of their functions is to break the chain reaction and destroy free radicals.
Therefore, while antioxidants can be found in many fresh fruits and vegetables, it still pays to take antioxidant dietary supplement along with your food. Vitamin C antioxidant dietary supplement is perhaps the most famous form of antioxidant available. Also known as ascorbic acid, bottles of this antioxidant dietary supplement can be found in any pharmacy or health food store. Research show that this particular form of antioxidant dietary supplement greatly helps in boosting the immune system and thus aid in preventing the onset of degenerative diseases.
Another popular form of antioxidant dietary supplement is Vitamin E. This antioxidant dietary supplement works best when taken with Vitamin C as it seems that both vitamins have synergistic effect when taken in combination.
Besides vitamins, antioxidant dietary supplements may be in the form of botanicals. Green tea, for example, is a rich source of the flavonoid derivatives (polyphenols) epicatechin (EC), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). All these contribute to what makes green tea a good antioxidant dietary supplement.