What Are Antioxidants?

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You’ve likely heard that certain foods are high in antioxidants and probably know that antioxidants are a good thing but most people have no idea what they really are. Sure, blueberries are great, but do they have some magical quality? The truth is, your own body already has some antioxidants. In fact, antioxidants are just molecules that fight free radicals. It is part of your own body’s natural system to create antioxidants. Free radicals are molecular compounds that can cause damage to your body and have been associated with many disease processes such as heart disease and cancer.  Oddly enough though, you need some free radicals to make your immune system function properly. So, as with so many things, this equation is about finding a balance.

Pollution

When you have more free radicals than antioxidants present in your body for a long period of time you can actually damage your DNA, which can promote cancer. Certain things you can control in your own environment can increase the level of free radicals in your system. Some of these factors include:

•Exposure to air pollution

•Smoking

•Sun bathing

•Stress

•High blood pressure

•Eating processed foods

•Ingesting too many antioxidants such as vitamins C and E

•Infections

coffee

The balance of these factors is the key to cellular health. If you do not take in enough vitamin C in your diet, it may be time to think about a supplement. However, loading up on vitamins when you already have a diet rich in antioxidants could cause you to throw off the balance. You can actually take too many vitamins. Antioxidants are typically found in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, green tea, and even coffee. So, while taking a magic cocktail of vitamins sounds like a healthy plan, nothing can replace a well balanced diet full of nutritious foods. And though it may have seemed like just a warning slapped on the vitamin bottle before, now you know it really is the best idea to check with a doctor or nutritionist before beginning any new supplement.

Sources:
BSc, A. (2019, July 29). Antioxidants Explained in Simple Terms. Retrieved August 19, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/antioxidants-explained
Antioxidants: Health benefits and nutritional information. (n.d.). Retrieved August 19, 2020, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/301506

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