What does an antioxidant do for the human body?
More importantly, how can antioxidants help in keeping your body fit and healthy, and how much do you need to get the full dosage of antioxidants to see any effect?
Of course, it takes more than just taking supplements and eating all the natural food items that you can find to be and feel healthy. The proper diet, regular exercise, and a healthy dose of antioxidants are the keys to a long and fulfilled life.
But what are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are naturally occurring compounds that help arrest the process of oxidation, another natural occurrence that happens all the time inside and outside the body.
On the other hand, oxidation is the chemical reaction that sparks several other chain reactions that can lead to cell damage in living organisms.
Following this line of thought, antioxidants may be instrumental in preventing the damaging effects of oxidation, especially since the chemical makeup of antioxidant compounds were made by nature to counteract the actions done by oxidants.
It is like the antimatter vs. matter theorem but on a much smaller scale.
One destroys, the other creates.
Antioxidants are usually grouped into two kinds of substances:
- industrial chemicals
- naturally occurring compounds
Industrial antioxidants are often added to food items, cosmetics, and even fuel, as preservatives, and as oxidation-inhibitors for fuel.
Meanwhile, naturally occurring antioxidants are present in most fruits and vegetables. The human body absorbs these antioxidants as minerals and nutrients that help sustain its molecular structure.
Industrial antioxidants are usually concentrated from naturally occurring antioxidants and stored in vast amounts for industrial purposes.
This makes it easier to combine antioxidants with supplements without the need to extract it from natural sources which can take time and add to the manufacturing costs.
What Does an Antioxidant Do for the Human Body?
Antioxidants have always been part of the human diet, even way before they were named as such. These nutrients are required to maintain good health, but there is still debate as to whether antioxidants can really serve as a cure to certain illnesses.
But, what does an antioxidant do for the human body exactly? To know this, you need to be aware of the different antioxidants that your body absorbs on a regular basis.
Vitamins A, C, and E, which are the most common antioxidant vitamins, and a few of the more common antioxidants are the result of the metabolic reaction once the food item containing them gets digested.
Here are a few of the more common antioxidants and where you can get them:
- Vitamin C. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that has multiple purposes in an organic system. Citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, berries, and broccoli are the top sources of vitamin C.
- Vitamin A. Known as retinol to eye experts, vitamin A is often derived from beta-carotene that comes from dark green and yellow vegetables. Fruits like cantaloupe, apricots, peaches, and mangoes are rich sources of the provitamin A carotenoid, beta-carotene.
- Vitamin E. The role of vitamin E in the body is more of a protector of lipids, and it is also fat-soluble. Some major sources of vitamin E include nuts, grains, and seeds, as well as green leafy vegetables, fish-liver oil, and kiwi.
- Lycopene. This antioxidant is more commonly found in tomato-based products like tomato paste, pasta sauces, and canned tomatoes, as well as guava and watermelon. Lycopene has been said to help in preventing diseases like cancer.
- Lutein. Mostly found in deep green and leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and mustard greens. This compound acts like Vitamin A, and it may help in preventing macular degeneration and is said also to help regenerate the lenses.
- Selenium. Mostly found in grains like corn and rice, as well as different kinds of meat. This antioxidant can even be found in pasta and bread, as well as eggs and cheese.
- Carotenoids. Alpha and beta-carotenes are found in carrots, squash, bell peppers, and green beans, as well as sweet potatoes, spinach, and mangoes.
- Flavonoids. Technically a whole family of antioxidants including flavones, flavonols, flavanones, and anthocyanins, these compounds can be found in many kinds of berries, coffee, and most variants of tea.
Some of the other common antioxidants include:
- salicylic acid
- gallic acid
All of which can be derived and synthesized from various natural sources like fruits, grains, vegetables, and meats.
Top Benefits of Antioxidants to the Body
Some experts suggest that antioxidants may provide certain benefits to anybody who consumes them.
A few of these benefits include:
- Aids in slowing down a person’s aging process both inside and outside
- Assists in rejuvenating the skin and is said to help treat skin diseases
- Helps reduce the risk of cancer and other similar illnesses
- Helps detoxify your internal system by flushing out waste by-products of oxidation like dead cells and the other skeletons in your cellular closet
- May boost your lifespan by providing your body with the nutrients that it needs to keep it healthy
- Helps protect your heart against disease and stroke by flushing out bad cholesterol and inhibiting them from being absorbed by your body
- May reduce the risk of vision loss by preventing macular degeneration
These are but a few of the benefits that may be derived from consuming antioxidants from antioxidant-rich foods, like fruits, grains, and vegetables.
There is actually no prescribed dosage of how much of each kind of you need to consume to get the full benefit of antioxidants, which makes it difficult to compute for the amount you can absorb in one seating.
One good effect of this is that to get sufficient amounts of antioxidants and maximize its said benefits, you need to consume more and more of the healthy stuff.
This high consumption of healthy food items leads to better overall nutrition, and you tend to veer away from junk food and empty calories.