Getting Antioxidants From Your Diet

When deciding to include antioxidants in your diet it is important to know how they affect your body, what they do, how they should be taken and in what foods you can find them.

Everybody is quite familiar with antioxidants of some form.But most of the people I ask don't even care about antioxidants or where you can find them. The truth is, we all should care about them. Antioxidants might be one of the best ways to defend ourselves against disease, but in some instances we need to be careful how we take them. It is best to be well informed about how they affect the body.

What exactly are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are nutrients found in certain foods (and vitamins) that help protect your body from damage caused by free radicals and oxidation.

What are free radicals?

Free radicals are unstable and reactive atoms that cause tissue damage at the cellular level. Cell damage can cause cancer, heart disease, cataracts and weakening of the immune system. There are antioxidants that control free radicals, others that convert them to less harmful compounds and some that restores the damaged cell.

Free radicals (or oxidation) can be produced externally and internally. Internally, possible sources come from smoking, synthetic chemicals in our water and food and environmental pollution. Internally, causes may stem from digestion or physical activity.

Our bodies naturally have a mechanism used to attack radicals. It consists of special enzymes that have an extra electron that works FOR us, not against us. In order to work in safeguarding our cells, enzymes need assistance from substances called antioxidants.

There are two ways to include antioxidants in your diet - through vitamin supplements and food.

Which is a better way to get antioxidants in your diet? Vitamins or Food?

There are many different studies that provide varying results about which way is the best to add antioxidants in a diet. The decision one makes has to be based on personal preference. I can only give you the facts.

Antioxidants are present in vitamins C, E, flavonoids, coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinone (Ubiqgel), selenium (Sele-Pak, Selepen), and lycopene, and beta-carotene to name a few. The studies that have been done by many different health professionals and organizations, The American Heart Association included. All came to the conclusion that antioxidant supplements have had some (very little) notable affects on the body. Most studies conclude that there is no real evidence of a great reduction of risk for heart disease or cancer, for that matter. As a matter of fact, there are even some potentially adverse affects on the body when taking some supplements on the body. Long-term use of beta-carotene supplements may increase the risk of heart disease and cancer. High doses of vitamin E may lead to hemorrhagic stroke.

Various health organizations, including the American Heart Association, have put the public on notice about the excessive use of antioxidant supplements, especially beta carotene, based on the distressing evidence that it might do more harm than good.

It seems the best way to enter antioxidants in the body is through a diet plan.

Vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin found in all body fluids, may be one of our first resources for defense. The body cannot store it. That's why it's important to get some regularly.You can find this vitamin included in citrus fruits, green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries, raw cabbage and potatoes.

Vitamin E can be stored with fat in the liver and other tissues. It promotes such things as anti-aging and healing the skin after a sunburn. Important sources include wheat germ, nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil and fish-liver oil.

Beta Carotene is the most studied antioxidant. It has protected various fruits and vegetables from solar radiation damage. It is thought to play a similar part in the body. Carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches and apricots are great sources of beta-carotene.

Selenium is considered to be helpful in battling cell damage by oxygen-derived compounds. It assists in protecting against cancer. It's a good idea to obtain selenium through foods. Large doses of the supplement form can be the best food sources for this antioxidant include fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic. Some vegetables might be a good source of selenium as well, depending on if they were grown in selenium rich soils.

Coenzyme Q10 is important for generating energy; protecting the soundness of gums and teeth; preventing heart disease, obesity and cancer, guarding the viability of sperm cells; and delaying the aging process. You can find Coenzyme Q10 in beef heart, muscle and organ meats, egg yolks, liver, codfish, milk fat, wheat germ and various whole grains.

Lycopene helps fight against cancer. Tomatoes and watermelon are a few of the foods associated with this antioxidant.

There are many ways to take care of yourself. Knowledge is power when it comes to your health. The medical field is always coming out with new updates on what's good for your body. Listen and read up. It just might help prevent some of the worst things from happening. A good diet might be just what you need.

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