You may have noticed thatseem to get a lot of hype and attention lately. From being found in foods and supplements to face creams and makeup, these interesting natural helpers seem to be just about everywhere. So, what exactly do do, and are they really important?
Antioxidants help to protect the cells in the body from damage caused by harmful molecules known as “free radicals”. Free radicals are formed as a result of the body processing certain substances, such as the burning of sugars for energy use, the release of digestive enzymes when breaking down food, through the breakdown of certain medications, and through certain pollutants. Studies have shown that damage from free radicals is a major contributing factor in the development of certain types of cancer, blood vessel disease (also known as atherosclerosis), and other conditions.
Antioxidants are comprised of flavonoids, some minerals (such as selenium), and some vitamins (such as C and E). Fruits and vegetables are the best natural sources of; however red wine and tea also provide some antioxidant effects as they contain natural flavonoids.
While antioxidants are available in supplement form, the best results come from obtaining the substances in natural form through a healthy, well-balanced diet.
For years, people having been using antioxidants to help treat and prevent a wide variety of medical conditions. Such conditions include: certain types of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, macular degeneration, and coronary artery disease (CAD). While some experts are firm in their belief that antioxidant supplements are extremely effective in treating CAD, more research is still being conducted to provide definitive proof.
What is known for sure is that antioxidants are most beneficial when consumed in their most natural state by consuming five to nine servings of fresh fruit and vegetables each day. It is important to understand that taking supplements in high doses can be harmful and that no one single antioxidant can protect the body entirely.
If you do decide to take a supplement, always consult with your physician prior to doing so. Supplements can cause side effects and in some cases can cause allergic reactions. Supplements also have the potential to interact with other over the counter items or medications. Take a bit of time to research different antioxidant options, but don’t use supplements as an excuse to avoid eating more fruit and vegetables as they provide a lot more than just antioxidants to keep you healthy.
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