Antioxidants: everything you need to know

General Health

Antioxidants are an interesting topic. We have all heard that antioxidants are good for us but apart from that it all gets a little confusing - but it needn’t be!

Emily Condon
BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences

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What are antioxidants and why are they important?

Antioxidants are nutrients or substances in food which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our bodies caused by free radicals - molecules created when the body performs everyday functions like breaking down food and even breathing. When the body cells use oxygen, free radicals are produced which can be damaging. Antioxidants act as ‘free radical scavengers’, preventing and repairing the damage, but the body needs sufficient antioxidant protection to keep these free radicals under control. Free radical damage is thought to contribute to many of the diseases of ageing including heart disease, cancer and even wrinkles. 

Free radicals are highly reactive oxygen species derived from the environment, the diet and normal biochemical processes occurring in the body. Environmental toxins such as tobacco, alcohol, pollution, ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds and substances found in processed food are all classed as free radicals. They can attack, damage and ultimately destroy any material including the sensitive cells and tissues inside the body. Free radicals are also able to do a lot of damage through reprogramming our DNA. One free radical can initiate tens of thousands of reactions. 

To protect against the damaging effects of free radicals, the body needs sufficient antioxidant protection to keep these free radicals under control. Antioxidants effectively ‘mop-up` the free radicals before they can cause any damage.

How do we get antioxidants?

As the Western lifestyle is rich in processed foods, heavily reliant on medications, and high exposure to chemical and environmental pollutants, many of us are exposed to extremely high rates of oxidative stress from a young age. Because of this, we need the power of antioxidants more than ever, but how do we get them?

Antioxidants and free radicals are always present inside our bodies. The body can produce some antioxidants, while we need to get others from the foods we eat. Antioxidants occur naturally in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, wine, and chocolate. Foods particularly high in antioxidants are blueberries, artichokes and kidney beans. Vitamins A, C and E, Selenium and Coenzyme Q10 are known for their antioxidant properties, helping to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Other naturally occurring antioxidants include flavonoids, tannins, phenols and lignans.  ??????????????????

How can we check our antioxidant levels?

Our Antioxidant Check is an excellent way to check the level of antioxidant activity in the body. This test is for anyone concerned that they do not get enough antioxidants in their diet, or who believe that their lifestyle exposes them to greater free radical damage through smoking, heavy exercise, stress or sun exposure. Order yours today!

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