Most people already know that antioxidant nutrients and supplements are good for health, but what are antioxidants really? Many may not fully understand how these substances work in the body. According to an article, the word antioxidant is one of the most confusing terms that is not yet clearly defined in the scientific literature. This article takes a deep dive into it and explains what its health benefits and risks are.
What are antioxidants in relation to the eating plan?
Antioxidants are compounds that reduce or inhibit cell damage by neutralizing molecules called free radicals. Correspondingly, free radicals have one or more unpaired electrons in their outer orbit. This makes them unstable and highly reactive. The body creates them through normal endogenous metabolic processes, including energy production. In addition, they are also produced in the organism in response to environmental and lifestyle factors such as sun exposure, smoking, alcohol consumption and more. So antioxidants inhibit the process called oxidation, which creates free radicals that cause cell damage. These compounds safely interact with free radicals and neutralize them before they can damage proteins, lipids, and DNA. In addition, oxidative stress occurs when there are too many free radicals in the body. This imbalance can occur due to increased free radical production or decreased antioxidant defenses. For example, many chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer, have links to progressive free radical damage.
The body also produces metabolic antioxidants through metabolism. These include lipoic acid, glutathione, coenzyme Q10, melatonin, uric acid, L-arginine, bilirubin and transferrin. However, there are some antioxidants that the body cannot produce. This means that they must be taken from food or from supplements. Such nutritional antioxidants include carotenoids, antioxidant vitamins including vitamins C and E, selenium, manganese, zinc, flavonoids, and omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Dietary and supplemental antioxidants receive the most attention in the world of nutrition. Accordingly, a diet rich in antioxidants can help strengthen the body’s antioxidant defenses.
Food vs. Diet Supplements
Diet supplements typically contain concentrated doses of isolated antioxidants, which can have different health effects than antioxidant-rich foods. While such supplements are extremely nutritious and important to health, taking a very high dose of antioxidant may not be suitable for everyone. In addition, such a supplement can even be harmful for some people. However, the relationship between extra antioxidants and disease prevention is less clear. For example, scientists have linked vitamin E supplementation to an increased risk of prostate cancer in healthy men. Similarly, studies link beta-carotene supplementation to one increased risk of lung cancer in smokers.
Conversely, research has consistently linked antioxidant-rich diets high in vegetables, fruits, spices, and other natural sources of antioxidants to reduced disease risk. No associations with harmful consequences were found. For this reason, nutritionists recommend consuming antioxidants over natural products. They do not recommend taking high-dose supplements unless specifically recommended by a health care provider. According to this study Antioxidants can best be absorbed through foods and beverages such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, spices, and tea.