4 Powerhouse Antioxidants Everyone Can Benefit From
Before we delve into the specific antioxidant recommendations that comprise #4 through #7 on our list of top supplements, let’s first discuss why antioxidants are important to begin with.
Each act the human body engages in requires energy at a cellular level. One side effect of the cellular process to create energy is the splitting of oxygen molecules. The splitting of naturally bound oxygen molecules results in the creation of free-floating, unstable oxygen particles known as “free radicals” (also referred to as “pro-oxidants”). Free radicals are like tiny shards of glass flowing through the blood vessels, airways and other pathways of your body. As they bounce off the walls of these passageways, free radicals nick up the smooth, protective lining along the walls (known as epithelial tissue), exposing the underlying tissue to toxins being cleared by the body through circulation, respiration and digestion.
Over time, these toxins degrade the integrity and function of the underlying tissue cells exposed by free radical damage, leading them to malfunction by failing to perform their intended purposes or by over-performing them. Both outcomes lead to inflammation (buildup of fluids, proteins and white blood cells) in the underlying tissue cells. Inflammation ultimately leads to depressed immunity and premature aging of the tissues, and sets the stage for chronic disease to develop. Scientists refer to the resulting imbalance between pro-oxidative molecules (bad guys) and antioxidant molecules (good guys) as “oxidative stress.”
In fact, oxidative stress is believed by many scientists to lie at the core of nearly all major chronic health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, lung disease, cancer and diabetes. (See the Appendix of this report for two examples of how oxidative stress and inflammation create the foundation for chronic diseases to develop.)
Thankfully, our bodies can consume and produce protective molecules known as antioxidants that bind to free radicals and neutralize their ability to nick up the lining of body passageways. One way to view antioxidants is as matching puzzle pieces that turn jagged-edged free radicals into harmless, round bouncing balls.
But here’s the problem: As we discussed in the multi-nutrient section, the average American adult does not consume enough antioxidants through diet to offset the ravaging effects of pro-oxidative free radicals.
Further, as we also discussed earlier, many of the behaviors we demonstrate on a daily basis increase the number of free radicals in our bodies and/or decrease the available supply of neutralizing antioxidants (poor sleep, lack of sunlight, lack of physical activity, smoking, drinking, prescription drug consumption, and fat/sugar centric diets to name a few).
So, for the vast majority of Americans, supplementing a diet that includes antioxidant-rich foods with a high-potency multi-nutrient and additional targeted antioxidants is beneficial.
Which targeted antioxidants make the most sense?
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