As kids, we often hear our parents and guardians say that we should eat our vegetables and fruits if we want to be healthy and strong. We were forced to eat healthy food in the hope of maintaining good health and prolonging our lives.
As adults, we finally understand that eating healthy has its benefits. We know that vegetables and fruits are good for us, and even seek out supplements that are antioxidant-filled even if we do not fully understand how do antioxidant minerals stabilize free radicals.
Understanding Antioxidants Vitamins
There is a reason why doctors and experts tell us to eat more vegetables, nuts, and fruits—these foods are excellent sources of antioxidants vitamins.
There is no set amount of how much antioxidants a person needs each day, but experts recommend taking in at least five servings of vegetables, fruits, and nuts on a daily basis.
To understand better what kind of food to take, we need to know which vitamins are considered as antioxidants as well as the kind of food to take per vitamin.
Vitamin A and Beta-carotene
First on the list is Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and provitamin A which are a great help in protecting the body from free radicals.
Beta-carotene and Vitamin A are the reasons for healthy vision as well as the formation, and maintenance of several organs, namely, lungs, kidneys, and heart. These two are also responsible for the body’s cell growth.
Fish oils and liver are some of the richest sources of Vitamin A. Drinking milk and eating eggs will also provide the body with this needed vitamin.
Beta-carotene converts into vitamin A in our bodies and is often found in yellow and orange vegetables and fruits such as carrots and sweet potato as well as in dark green leafy vegetables, tomato products, fruits, and some vegetable oil.
Vitamin C is another antioxidant that can regenerate other antioxidants inside one’s body. This vitamin aids in guarding against more free radical build-up and can help heal wounds and provide protein metabolism.
Vitamin C is found in vegetables, fruits, and fortified grains. Red peppers are also one of the most abundant sources of this particular vitamin.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which helps during the breaking down of fat into energy by preventing the production of reactive oxygen. Our bodies need this vitamin for a healthy immune system.
There are plenty of sources of vitamin E such as seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. Likewise, fortified cereals and dark green leafy vegetables are also rich in vitamin E.
How Do Antioxidant Minerals Stabilize Free Radicals?
When oxygen interacts with some molecules in our bodies, then free radicals which are atoms or groups of them become highly reactive radicals when formed.
Free radicals build up so fast, and they become dangerous when they interact with vital cell components within our bodies like the cell membrane or the DNA. When this happens, then either our cells end up functioning poorly, or worse, die. It then becomes imperative to fight the formation of these free radicals.
This is where antioxidants’ role becomes important.
Antioxidants are molecules capable of preventing the damage caused by the formation of these free radicals. They can prevent the chain reaction of radical formation.
The role of antioxidants in one’s health is so important that is why doctors and experts recommend eating a balanced diet, and some require food supplements that are rich in antioxidants.
The Benefits of Antioxidants
Even we do not completely understand how do antioxidant minerals stabilize free radicals; there is no doubt that antioxidants are beneficial for the body.
Not everybody knows that different antioxidants have different benefits to various body parts.
- For example, vitamin A or beta-carotene is responsible for proper eyesight while flavonoids are significant for the heart.
- Many people take plenty of antioxidants in the hope of improving their skin.
As experts tell us, exposure to direct sunlight causes the formation of free radicals, which then damages our skin. Exposure to ultraviolet light causes reactive oxygen that destroys proteins, DNA, and cellular lipids, which in turn results in erythema or what is more popularly known as sunburn.
Likewise, too much UV rays can also cause photodermatoses and cancer of the skin.
Vitamin E and beta-carotene can prevent such damage by the sun as they are the best combination of antioxidants to aid in protecting the skin.
- On the other hand, some antioxidants are best for supporting the body’s immune system.
Protecting cell membranes as well as preventing the cellular DNA from mutating requires certain antioxidants such as spirulina and astaxanthin. This is because these two are best in quenching the singlet oxygen, which can damage the immune system as it helps hasten the production of free radicals.
Cardiovascular diseases are dreaded medical conditions as they can be deadly. In fact, it is ranked as the number one disease killer.
In the United States, heart diseases have killed the most number of Americans than any other illnesses. It is therefore critical to note that one of the best ways to minimize the risk of heart ailments is by taking plenty of antioxidants, which can keep the cholesterol from triggering oxidation.
Damaged arteries result from the oxidation of cholesterol, which is a precursor to heart-related ailments.
Taking in plenty of Vitamin E can help prevent damage to the arteries, which arguably helps in preventing heart diseases.
Sources of Antioxidants: Food vs. Supplements
There are plenty of food supplements on the market that is rich in antioxidants.
A significant number of these products sometimes confuse people on which is best to take. The question is: which way is better to benefit from these? Through: natural sources or food supplements?
There is no hard and fast rule on the number of antioxidants one person must take per day.
As a guideline, experts say that a person should at least consume five servings of fruits and vegetables. However, it is not clear on how much food supplement is allowed on a day to day case.
What experts agree on is that natural food such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts are more potent sources of antioxidants than food supplements. But that is not to say that food supplements are not coming useful. There are cases when one cannot source the antioxidants from eating nutrient-dense food, and in which case, going for a food supplement becomes a good option.