Antioxidants are rich nutrients that help protect your body from damage caused by free radicals. There are 16 different types of antioxidants. Antioxidants have been known to be healthy for eons. But do you know what they are exactly? How do antioxidants help you stay healthy? Well, we’ve got your back. Let’s dive right in to understand the ABCs of antioxidants.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are molecules present in your body to fight against free radicals. They help reduce the damage done by free radicals. They hunt down free radicals and try to neutralise them.
What are free radicals?
Your body releases certain compounds known as free radicals based on its daily functioning. These compounds are known as free radicals. When present in your body in higher amounts, they can become harmful to you. These free radicals can cause various illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Excessive free radicals are formed because of the following factors:
- Air pollution
- Alcohol intake
- High blood sugar levels
- Cigarette smoke
- Infections: bacterial, viral, or fungal
- Radiation - sunbathing, X-rays
- Lack of oxygen in your body
- Excessive intake of iron, copper, zinc, or magnesium
- Tissue trauma due to injury or inflammation
-Exercise: intense and excessive
Effects of free radicals
The free radicals that are constantly being produced in your body are necessary for your health and well-being. Your immune cells use these free radicals to fight against infections and maintain balance. But anything in excess is harmful, right? Hence, when these free radicals increase in number, you may end up suffering from other illnesses. This is where the antioxidants come into play. Both these compounds need to be maintained within normal limits for proper bodily functions. The excessive free radicals cause oxidative stress in your body leading to disease. This stress can damage your DNA and could even lead to cell death. Your body needs to maintain a balance between the antioxidants and free radicals present in your body. Only then can you remain healthy and fit.
Types of antioxidants
There are different types of antioxidants present in your body. Each type has a specific role to play and helps in neutralising specific free radicals.
The 16 types of antioxidants are as follows:
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that is present in most fruits and vegetables. All your orange-coloured fruits and vegetables have vitamin A present in them. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps improve immunity, lowers your cholesterol levels, improves eye health, and repairs old broken tissues.
2. Vitamin C
Most citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. This essential nutrient helps boost your immunity, improves your mood, and protects your skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays.
3. Vitamin E
A super nutrient known to protect skin health, vitamin E is the primary fighting army against oxidative stress. It is used to protect your skin, increase cell regeneration, and improve your body’s immune function.
Selenium is a micronutrient that is an essential mineral necessary for normal bodily functions. It helps reduce your risk of developing heart disease and maintains healthy hair, skin, and eyes.
A necessary micronutrient that helps strengthen your immunity, reduces your proneness to develop colds and boosts your mood thereby reducing stress levels.
Polyphenols are present in most foods and help keep your vision healthy along with supporting cardiac health and boosting your immune response.
These antioxidants boost your heart health and improve your body’s cellular defense.
8. Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 is necessary for energy production in your body cells, to promote heart and brain health, to boost your immunity, and to improve overall health.
9. Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPCs)
This antioxidant has anti-inflammatory properties that help maintain your heart health, boost immunity, and improve skin health.
Sulforaphane is critical in the detoxification of unwanted compounds in your body and in making the cellular antioxidant defenses better.
This antioxidant helps prevent eye complications and boosts eye health. It protects your eyes from UV damage and prevents any major damage caused by free radicals to the retina and lens of your eyes.
Commonly found in tomatoes, lycopene helps maintain prostate health, acts as your natural sunscreen, and protects you from age-related degeneration like cataract.
Another mineral that is necessary for bodily functions, chromium helps boost your immunity. It protects your RNA and DNA and also ensures your cholesterol levels are regulated.
Lutein helps in increasing your skin’s elasticity and hydration. It also boosts eye health and helps prevent macular degeneration brought on by ageing.
All other antioxidants require some help from time to time. Pycnogenol is your go-to antioxidant for that. It enhances the actions of other fellow antioxidants and stimulates their production in your body.
Astaxanthin helps improve your strength and stamina while also reducing your convalescence period. This antioxidant reduces eye strain and fatigue caused by excessive use. Your heart health and skin quality improve with the help of this antioxidant.
Natural sources of antioxidants
Most antioxidants are plant-based and hence you can find them in good amounts in your daily veggies and fruits.
Antioxidants are easily available in the following foods:
Citrus fruits like orange, grapefruit, nectarine
Nuts and seeds
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Beet juice is a good source of nitrates which can lower blood pressure
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