You may have heard a lot about antioxidants. Whether they're made naturally in the body (such as alpha lipoic acid or glutathione), obtained from the diet (many fruits may contain antioxidants), or incorporated into your supplement regimen, there is no shortage of ways to stock up on these helpful compounds. But what are antioxidants, and how can they help our bodies? This blog takes a look at antioxidants and how you can incorporate them into your diet.
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are natural or synthesized compounds that can help inhibit certain types of cell damage, or oxidation. These compounds are commonly found in plant-based food sources like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains, though certain vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin C or selenium) can exhibit antioxidant properties as well. Antioxidants play a crucial role in helping to protect our cells from damage by counteracting the effects of oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Antioxidants do this by working to neutralize free radicals, and the term antioxidant applies to the chemical properties and actions of these various compounds rather than a specific nutritional property or value.* Common plant-based antioxidants include flavonoids, phenols, anthocyanins, beta-carotene and carotenoids.
What Are Free Radicals?
Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize oxidation, or chemical reactions that produce free radicals. The body can be exposed to free radicals naturally or through external environmental factors such as cigarette smoke, pollution and even sunlight, but these oxygen-containing molecules are also a natural process in cell rejuvenation. Free radicals have an uneven number of electrons which can easily interact with other molecules and damage cells by causing oxidative stress. Antioxidants work by neutralizing these free radicals, preventing their harmful effects on cellular structures such as DNA, proteins, and lipids. By donating electrons, antioxidants help maintain a balance between the production of free radicals and the body's ability to eliminate them, ultimately promoting overall cellular health.*
Antioxidant Food Sources
There are plenty of different compounds that can act as antioxidants; most familiarly, vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and minerals such as selenium and manganese can all promote antioxidant activity.* In the diet, many fruits and vegetables can act as natural antioxidants.* That's because they contain important plant compounds (phytonutrients), such as flavonols and polyphenols that work to neutralize free radicals.* The body is also able to produce some antioxidants, such as alpha lipoic acid. The following foods can act as natural antioxidant sources:
Dark chocolate (a great source of polyphenols, flavonols and catechins)
Pecans (contain different forms of the antioxidant vitamin E)
Berries, such as acai, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and goji berries, are known as versatile antioxidant sources*
Artichoke (a source of chlorogenic acid)
Kale (contains anthocyanin antioxidants)
Red cabbage (contains anthocyanins and vitamin C, which may also act as an antioxidant)
Beets (contain betalains, antioxidants that give beets their reddish color)
Spinach (contains a natural source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants important to eye health*)
Supplements for Antioxidant Health
For some, it may be hard to consume a diet rich with the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients necessary to obtain a diverse antioxidant profile through food sources.* Luckily, many dietary supplements may also promote antioxidant health.* At Nature’s Lab, we offer a variety of antioxidant support supplements from Resveratrol Ultra to Turmeric Extract, Astaxanthin to Super Vitamin C and more. Our newest, Super Antioxidant Support, contains nearly 20 fruit extracts and powders to promote antioxidant health, including:
Acai Berry: This superfood is included as a 4:1 extract in our Super Antioxidant Support formula. Acai contains anthocyanins and other compounds that can promote antioxidant health as well as cardiovascular health.*
Goji Berry: Super Antioxidant Support contains 300 mg of this antioixndat-boosting fruit extract.* Goji contains flavonoids and carotenoids that can protect the eyes against oxidative damage.*
Mangosteen: The peel of this fruit contains phenolic acids and flavonoids that can promote antioxidant health.* We include 250 mg of whole mangosteen fruit in this formula.
Pomegranate Fruit: Super Antioxidant Support utilizes a 4:1 extract of pomegranate, a fruit regarded for its anthocyanin content, to promote antioxidant health.*
Noni Fruit: Packing a punch as a 10:1 extract, noni fruit contains diverse flavonoids commonly missing from other fruits to promote cell health and immune health.*
Trans-Resveratrol: Derived from Polygonum cuspidatum, trans-resveratrol promotes cell health, including healthy cognitive function.*
Vitaberry® HI ORAC Fruit Blend: This mixture contains the powders and extracts from antioxidant-boosting fruits such as grapes, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, tart cherries and more.