Antioxidants are chemicals that protect body cells from damage by free radicals. They work by reducing the rate of chemical reactions leading to cell damage. In addition, antioxidants also possess anti-inflammatory properties that help to improve liver function.
Antioxidant vitamins can be taken as dietary supplements. You can find them in vegetables, fruits, and other plant-based whole foods. Antioxidant vitamins like C, E, and A are well known for their antioxidant properties.
- Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that is an essential dietary nutrient.
- Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that plays a vital role in protecting cell membranes from oxidative damage.
- Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that protects the body’s cells, promotes health, and supports growth.
Other antioxidants include flavonoids, a group of plant antioxidants that help regulate cellular activity and prevent free radicals, and carotenoids, a group of yellow-orange pigments found in fruits and vegetables. They protect the body from diseases and boost the immune system.
The Role of Antioxidants in Fighting Disease
Antioxidants are molecules that protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules produced by the breakdown of food or exposure to toxins such as cigarette smoke and radiation. As a result, they cause damage to cells or tissues by stealing electrons from stable ones. Antioxidants serve as the body’s first line of defense by neutralizing harmful free radicals.
Antioxidants in foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains help protect your body from damage caused by free radicals. For example, fruits and vegetables contain large amounts of vitamins A and C, both powerful antioxidants that help protect you from free-radical damage. Nuts and whole grains also contain antioxidants that help prevent premature aging.
Evidence has shown that antioxidants may be beneficial in helping to prevent or delay the onset of many illnesses and conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. This could be because antioxidants help to reduce inflammation caused by oxidative stress, and lower cholesterol levels and risk factors for cardiovascular problems.
The Pros and Cons of Antioxidant Supplements
Antioxidant supplements come in concentrated form. Like every other form of antioxidants, they help to stabilize free radicals, which can lead to early symptoms of aging and disease. In addition, your body naturally produces free radicals when you exercise and digest food, and antioxidants can help you against them.
The most commonly used antioxidant supplements include vitamins C, E, and A and beta-carotene. Antioxidant vitamins have slowly become a popular way of improving diet and preventing oxidation, but how beneficial are they to your health?
The Pros of Antioxidant Supplements
- Antioxidant supplements are beneficial because they help neutralize free radicals that can cause cell damage.
- Since free radicals have been linked to conditions such as heart disease and cancer, antioxidant supplements can be beneficial in helping to reduce the risk of developing these diseases.
- Antioxidant supplements can help your body fight the effect of oxidants by providing the missing vitamins and carotenoids in your daily diet.
- Antioxidants play a role in preventing cancer by neutralizing carcinogens, which can cause DNA damage that leads to cell growth and tumors.
- Antioxidants also help decrease inflammation by reducing oxidative stress on your cells and tissues.
The Cons of Antioxidant Supplements
- While vitamin E supplements can help protect your heart by reducing inflammation. They may also increase your risk of bleeding or stroke if taken in high doses over long periods.
- Research has shown that taking beta-carotene or vitamin E antioxidant supplements increases the risk of people with already existing heart conditions.
- There is an increase in lung cancer in smokers who take beta-carotene supplements.
- Antioxidant supplements may lower the effectiveness of other medications or supplements.
- Although vitamin E antioxidant supplements help to protect your heart, they may also increase your risk of bleeding and stroke.
The safety of antioxidant vitamins in high doses and over extended periods has yet to be fully established, so it is essential to only take the recommended dosage. It would be best to tell your doctor about all your medications and natural health products during a regular medical checkup. In addition, you should always consult your doctor before taking any new supplements.
Taking high doses of antioxidant supplements can lead to toxicity and overdose. You may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. In addition, some people might experience an allergic reaction to antioxidants, such as hives (itchy bumps), rash (redness or blotches on your skin), itching, or difficulty breathing.
These symptoms may occur if you are allergic to vitamin A, often found in supplements like cod liver oil. You should contact your doctor immediately if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above.
Antioxidant supplements are a great way to help your body stay healthy. However, some antioxidants may not be safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as high doses can harm the developing fetus or newborn. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should thus check with their doctor before taking any antioxidant supplement.
Start Your Journey to Healthy Living
Antioxidants help protect the body from the damage caused by free radicals and unstable molecules that can cause cells to age and lead to disease development.
A balanced diet and cultivating a healthy lifestyle can help you maintain optimal antioxidant levels and protect your body against chronic diseases. In addition, individuals can promote overall health and well-being with regular exercise, good sleep, and managing stress levels.
Antioxidant vitamins can be a healthy addition to your diet. They can help prevent disease and aging. If you’re interested in infusing antioxidant vitamins into your diet, talk to your doctor to know if it is safe to take these supplements.
Erin Gregory is a blogger in Toronto. She is currently working as a Community Manager for several small businesses. She has graduated with honors from the University of British Columbia with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing. When not working, she eagerly shares her wealth of knowledge about all things health and business solutions. Erin’s unique insight and expertise makes for powerful content.