Why Are Antioxidants So Important?

by | Nov 5, 2014 | 2 comments

We have all heard of antioxidants, and we have all heard of free radicals.  But, what are they and why are they important for us to understand?

Antioxidants are a group of vitamins and minerals that we can obtain through the diet that help us to keep free radicals  under control.

What the hell is a free radical, you ask?  Basically, a free radical is an atom that is missing an electron and will take an electron from anywhere it can in your body to become “complete”.  This is a problem because it creates damage to our cells, DNA, immune system and increases our risk for degenerative diseases.  Free radicals are formed by all the toxins and pollutants in our environment (smoking, exhaust, pollution etc.) and also through some metabolic processes in the body.  This is especially important for frequent and intense EXERCISERS!  We are way more at risk of free radical damage when we exercise (but please don’t take this as an excuse to stop exercising, you still need it.. nice try though).  To read more about exactly how that occurs, check out this article.

So, in order to prevent this free radical damage, a good start is to make sure we are getting enough of these basic vitamins and minerals: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium and Zinc.

Food sources

Vitamin A: Fish liver oil, egg yolk, yellow and orange fruits and veggies, dark leafy greens

Vitamin C: Fresh Fruits and veggies, especially citrus

Vitamin E: Butter, egg yolk, liver, vegetable, seed and nut oils (do not heat these oils – they will turn into trans fats!) – hint: look at ingredients on boxed foods.  Even if they say trans fat free, but used vegetable oils, they have trans fats because of the processing (if they used heat, which they most likely did)

Selenium: Brazil nuts – just two nuts a day will give you enough selenium, shellfish

Zinc: Oysters

Berries are also super rich in antioxidants.

Herbs rich in antioxidants include: green tea, garlic, milk thistle, hawthorn

There is an antioxidant formula you can buy that has all of these things in one supplement.  it’s called ACES + Zn.  This is a great supplement, however, it is important to change up your antioxidant source, especially ACES + Zn because vitamin A is fat soluble, so you won’t want to take it long term.

Some of the best antioxidant supplements you can take include:

CoQ10: We make some naturally and ingest it through intake of oily fish and organ meats.  This is especially good for those with heart issues such angina and arrhythmia.  It’s very important to supplement with CoQ10 for those who are on statin drugs because they block the body’s ability to produce it.  It may also be helpful for those with breast cancer, diabetes and infertility!  General dosage is about 30mg/day but can go up to 100mg/day for those with more severe conditions such as cancer.

Glutathione & N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC):  Glutathione is an antioxidant composed of 3 amino acids including glutamic acid, glycine and cysteine. Cysteine plays a large role in the conversion to glutathione, therefore increasing glutathione levels in the body.  NAC can be taken at a dose of 500mg/day.

Why is glutathione so important anyway?

Glutathione has many functions in the body including kidney detoxification, helps use eliminate environmental toxins (such as the ones that are sprayed on our food), DNA repair, neutralizing free radicals (anti-cancer), immune function & wound healing, nerve function, cell function, heavy metal chelator (grabs onto them and excretes them)

*Both glutathione and cysteine levels decrease with age to supplementation becomes increasingly important*

Switch up the antioxidants that you take and eat for a wide variety of health benefits for a long, happy and healthy life!

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