You have probably heard about antioxidants, the ‘super foods’ that contain them and a little bit about what they are meant to do. The information out there can be confusing, and it’s important to know what antioxidants can do, might do, and won’t do, and what foods can provide you with the levels and types of antioxidants you need. Below you’ll find all the basic information you need to make an educated decision about how, and how much, of each antioxidant you need every day.
An antioxidant is a molecule that slows the process of oxidation in other molecules. Oxidation turns molecules into free radicals during the process of breaking down food, but also in response to exposure to tobacco or radiation. Once molecules have been oxidized into free radicals, they start chain reactions which result in damage or death to cells. Oxidation damage to cells often plays a major role in causing diseases and also in their progress. Antioxidants, coming from the Latin meaning no oxidation, work to neutralize free radicals in our bodies.
By neutralizing some of the effects of free radicals in our bodies, antioxidants can boost our immune systems by helping prevent colds and flu. Scientific evidence has also shown that antioxidants may play a part in preventing or controlling cancer symptoms, but to this point the conclusions have been inconsistent. This doesn’t mean, however, you can skip out of the vitamins and minerals that make up the class of antioxidants.
Antioxidants come from lots of foods that are part of a healthy diet, including some of those antioxidant ‘super foods’ you may have heard of. Types of antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, and Vitamins A, C and E. On the long list of foods rich in these antioxidants are blue berries, carrots, squash, spinach, tomatoes, apricots, sweet potatoes, almonds and broccoli. Other antioxidants that might help boost your immune system include vitamins zinc and selenium. These vitamins can be found in oysters, dairy products, whole grains and seafood.
As you can imagine from the short list above, it’s easy to get all the antioxidants you need from a regular, healthy, diet. If you choose to take an antioxidant or mineral supplement such as a multivitamin containing them, be aware that too much of either Vitamin A or E (or both) can be toxic. Want to know if you’re getting what you need from your diet? Ask us! Email at Info@FitNicePT.com