Antioxidants: are they good or bad for your body? Read on to find out. Oxidation is a chemical reaction in the body that produces free radicals which can damage body cells.
Oxidation occurs when the body is exposed to environmental hazards like smoke and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The purpose of antioxidants is to prevent damage to body cells caused by reactive oxygen species.
Some normal processes in the cell can also produce free radicals, even exercise can release free radicals. Since free radicals are unavoidable, it is essential to have a good supply of antioxidants to neutralize them.
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are a group of chemicals that destroy free radicals (which are unstable by-products of chemical reactions) that cause damage to our bodies, and act as a “re-oxidant”. They can be found in fruits and vegetables and in the foods we eat. Antioxidants can prevent free radicals from damaging body cells.
How do Antioxidants work?
Antioxidants function by doing two things:
The process of oxidation involves a chain reaction which leads to the production of free radicals that can damage the cells and cause diseases. Antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Beta-carotene can inhibit this chain reaction and neutralize the free radicals. This reduces oxidative damage to the cells.
Oxidation-inhibitor enzymes like catalase, superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase prevent the release of free radicals by reducing the rate of chain reaction during oxidation.
Sources of Antioxidants
It is possible to obtain antioxidants from natural as well as artificial sources. Moreover, the body produces its own oxidation-inhibitors that are known as endogenous antioxidants. In contrast, exogenous antioxidants originate from outside the body.
Some antioxidants like Glutathione are produced naturally by the body cells and are known as endogenous antioxidants while others like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Copper, Zinc, Selenium, Lycopene and Beta-carotene can be obtained from the food we eat and are known as exogenous antioxidants.
Fruits and Vegetables are the major sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants may also be obtained from nuts, seeds and some beverages like coffee.
There are dietary supplements that claim to be fortified with antioxidants, but it is recommended that we get our antioxidants from a rich diet as research has shown that these supplements do not offer much health benefits.
Health Benefits of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are they good or bad for the body? let’s find out.
Each antioxidant has its own unique role in the body although they all work together to promote and maintain good health. Antioxidants provide a lot of health benefits to the body. They are not just good for the body but an essential requirement to enjoy good health.
In this section we will look at some of the benefits of antioxidants. Antioxidants:
have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-aging properties. These have been found to have a wide range of actions, including anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-ageing properties.
Studies in animals have shown that dietary antioxidants can reduce the risk of cancer, and some have been shown to reduce the risk of senescence, a precursor of ageing.
Keep your eyes healthy. Research indicates that, a diet high in antioxidants, may slow down the progression or help in the prevention of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
prevent and reduce the risk of diseases. They protect the body against disease and disease-causing conditions. Through their protection, antioxidants enhance the body’s ability to fight disease, including cancer. Antioxidants can protect the body from damage by free radicals released during oxidation by neutralizing these free radicals.
help to build up the immune system. Antioxidants (such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene) help to make sure that the body can detoxify itself. They also help to prevent the build-up of toxins such as heavy metals.
These super nutrients can help strengthen the immune system, as well as help the body to absorb nutrients from the food we eat. Antioxidants are also one of the best ways to build a strong immune system.
Support healthy skin and hair. Antioxidants are one of the most important and most widely used supplements and are not only a way of fighting free radicals, but they are also an excellent way for the skin to be nourished and protected. They may help prevent conditions such as skin cancer.
Promote mental well-being. There is evidence that antioxidant rich foods may be beneficial in reducing depressive symptoms. Antioxidants may reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Antioxidant-rich foods may help reduce stress and depression. Antioxidant supplements can also be used for the enhancement of mood, memory, and attention.
Maintain a healthy heart. Foods rich in antioxidants are also associated with lower risk of heart disease and stroke. The Dietary Guidelines suggest that carotenoids are important for heart health.
In a meta-analysis of 25 observational studies, the authors concluded that high carotenoid intake in addition to improving heart health, is associated with reduced total mortality and all-cause mortality.
Other facts about Antioxidants
Antioxidants are generally safe when consumed orally, however, excessive consumption can lead to side effects.
For example, use of high-dose beta-carotene supplements has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Use of high-dose vitamin E supplements increases risks of haemorrhagic stroke and prostate cancer.
it should also be known that these antioxidant supplements can interact with other medications to cause unwanted adverse effects. Vitamin E supplements, for instance, could increase bleeding risk for people taking anticoagulants.
It is therefore recommended to consult a doctor before using antioxidant supplements. Especially if you are already taking medications for a disease.
In conclusion, Antioxidants offer diverse health benefits to the heart, eyes, skin, digestive system, reproductive system and all the organs in the body. By protecting the body from cell damage they thus improve health.
Antioxidants are a vital part of any diet and are a major player in human nutrition. They are important for keeping cells and tissues healthy Also, they prevent the oxidation of other components in the body which may lead to premature aging and illnesses.
These super nutrients are known to increase the level of energy and prevent fatigue and disease, including cancer.
The most effective way to get your daily dose of antioxidants is to eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.