From TV ads to health magazines, "antioxidant" has become the buzzword for many of today's health conscious individuals. So, what are antioxidants and how do they play a major role in achieving and maintaining a level of optimum health?
Also known as free radical scavengers, antioxidants maintain overall health by protecting the cells from the onslaught of free radicals - rogue oxidants that the body produces as a by-product of its natural metabolic processes. Exposure to UV light also contributes to the formation of these harmful chemicals inside the body, sometimes causing irreversible damage to cells.
Antioxidants and the Human Body
Although the human body produces its own antioxidants to combat the destructive properties of these free radicals, some antioxidants cannot be replicated or produced by the body. As we age, fewer and fewer antioxidants are manufactured by the body, which calls for the consumption of foods rich in these free radical scavengers to offset the deficit in the body.
One of the most obvious effects of taking substantial levels of antioxidants is healthy and glowing skin. It is now widely known that regular or prolonged exposure to sunlight damages the skin cells as UV light penetrates the inner layers of the skin. Antioxidants reverse the destructive effects of UV light, thus helping to preserve the natural state of your skin.
Foods Rich in Antioxidants
In nature, antioxidants abound in many of today's common fruits and vegetables. Broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, asparagus, and bell peppers are just some of the antioxidant-rich vegetables that are abundant in the market today. Fruits such as cantaloupe, papaya, strawberries, and raspberries are also rich in Vitamin C, one of the most potent antioxidants found in nature.
Of all the well-known antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E, and selenium are perhaps the most potent and effective types in fighting off free radicals in the body. Also, one interesting side effect of antioxidants is the promotion of collagen production, which also results in healthy skin.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin commonly found in mangoes, papaya, tomatoes, oranges and other fruits.
Fat-soluble vitamins A and E are also found in many fruits and vegetables, as well as eggs, nuts, leafy vegetables, and whole grains.
As for selenium, another potent antioxidant, they abound in beef, turkey, tuna and cod. The intake of fat-soluble vitamins, as well as selenium, should however, be properly monitored, because high dosages may cause adverse side effects.
Although antioxidants are readily available because of their abundance, consult with your doctor or nutritionist as to the proper intake of some foods rich in these beneficial compounds. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also take proper precaution in the consumption of some foods rich in antioxidants. It is possible to get too much of a good thing at times.