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If you’re curious about antioxidant supplements, you’ve come to the right place. A major study found that 95 percent of the world’s population is breathing air that is considered unsafe by the World Health Organization (WHO). Every time you leave your home, pollution from industry, automobiles, and other humans attacks you from all sides.
We hear a lot about free radicals and the damage that they can do to all of our body systems — especially after a hard workout. It can seem like an impossible task to beat back the things attacking our bodies that we can’t even see. Experts agree, though, with a combination of a proper diet and the right antioxidant supplements, when needed, you can fight back against some of the nastiest of pollutants and environmental stress.
What Are Free Radicals?
Before we learn about how antioxidant supplements can help with our health, we need to learn about free radicals. To explain free radicals, we have to break it down to a cellular level, and we don’t mean phones. Humans are made up of cells. Different types of molecules make up those cells. Atoms are the smallest parts of those molecules, and that’s what we’re all made of. Holding it all together is a process that involves the electrons that live in the atoms.
Our bodies are in a constant state of flux, with our cells doing all the processes our bodies need for survival. For everything to work correctly, the atoms need to bond with one another. There’s a chemical reaction going on that holds all the atoms together to form the molecules. That chemical reaction requires, in part, that there always be at least two electrons present to house the atoms where they belong. Exercise, illness, pollutions, stress, and even natural body processes can all cause those electrons to split when exposed to oxygen. When the atoms lose those electrons, they break off from the group and turn into a free radical. Then, they bounce around in the body looking for another electron — some of them causing damage on the way.
Free radicals aren’t always dangerous, but they can be. You see, some free radicals are good for us, some even fight off illnesses. However, now and then a free radical will start a chain reaction that can lead to cancer. On top of that, free radicals can damage the growth of new cells and build up into something known as oxidative stress, among other things, especially in people who exercise often. Not to worry, though, with the right amount of antioxidants in your life, you can fight back.
What Role Do Antioxidants Play in Our Health?
Next, let’s talk about antioxidants and the role that they play in our health in regards to those free radicals. Antioxidants are tiny little molecules. Antioxidant molecules, though, are not out of control and they have a job to do. Antioxidants hunt down all those damaged cells and give them the electrons they need — thereby neutralizing the free radicals and the damage they do.
Now, knowing what you do, you probably think you want to run out and get all the antioxidant supplements you can find. Don’t’ be so hasty, though, because you need more information before you do so. It’s no mystery that when it comes to our bodies, we have to find a balance. It’s entirely possible to overdo it, and we will tell you how to avoid that in later sections.
What Are Antioxidants?
We know that antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals and how they do it. But are antioxidant supplements the only way to get them? Actually, antioxidants occur naturally in a lot of the food we eat. Everything from fruits, vegetables, wine, chocolate, and even coffee has antioxidants. There are thousands of different types of antioxidant compounds out there, and they all have slightly different jobs. In the end, though, they all work together to defeat the free radicals that, left unchecked, could make us very sick or even kill us.
Types of antioxidants:
- lipoic acid
- vitamin C
- vitamin E
Benefits of antioxidants
Now that you know what antioxidants are and where they occur naturally let’s discuss the benefits they provide. First, we know that antioxidants occur naturally in our food. In an ideal situation, we should eat the right combination of things every day which should fuel us with all the antioxidants we need to deal with the free radicals floating around our insides. If your diet is perfect, you probably don’t need antioxidant supplements.
Let’s be honest for a second, though, how many of us have a perfect diet? We are busy, on-the-go, fitting in our workouts where we can, stressed out, and we just don’t have time to eat a balanced meal three times a day. Additionally, when we are sick, extra stressed out, or in an especially polluted area, we could all use a little bump in our antioxidant supply. And that’s where antioxidant supplements come in.
What happens when a person doesn’t get enough?
We touched briefly on oxidative stress before, let’s talk a little more about what that means. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), oxidative stress can lead to all sorts of nasty things. Free radicals on the run and unchecked can cause degenerative illnesses like cancer, autoimmune disorders, aging, cataracts, rheumatoid arthritis, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. It’s essential that we keep up our antioxidant levels high enough to counteract all of that damage.
How to tell if you aren’t getting enough
All the information leading up to this brings us to one essential point — how do you know if you aren’t getting enough antioxidants? First, there are a few really obvious disorders which may lead back, in some ways, to oxidative stress from unrestrained free radicals. Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease all have ties to oxidative stress. There are signs, though, before things get that serious. If you are dealing with one or more of the following symptoms, you might need to add some antioxidant supplements to your regimen:
- joint or muscle pain
- grey hair
- decrease in eyesight
- sensitivity to sound and headaches
- more susceptible to infections
You may have noticed that some of these are natural signs of aging. That’s one of the many reasons you should check in with your physician before you start taking antioxidant supplements. With your doctor’s help, you can figure out what’s normal and where you need the extra boost.
How Do Antioxidant Supplements Work?
In a perfect world, everyone would eat a diet full of fruits and veggies and get everything they need. As we all know, though, this world is far from perfect and eating correctly is a real challenge. On top of that, add the unprecedented levels of pollution, and the stress we put on our bodies and most of us can use a little extra help. That’s where antioxidant supplements come in.
Antioxidant supplements, especially the well-made ones, replace those essential electrons, snatch those free radicals out of your body, and neutralizes them. Essentially, a decent antioxidant supplement replaces the stuff you aren’t getting in your diet. There is a vast variety of different antioxidant supplements available, too. So, if you know you aren’t getting enough fruit, you take a vitamin C, for example. Or, there are formulas for more specific needs, as well, like brain health.
Are antioxidant supplements safe?
Before we dig into the rest of the information, we want to let you in on some recent scientific discoveries regarding the dangers of antioxidants. You absolutely can overdo it and take too many. Scientists found that taking too many antioxidant supplements is detrimental to your health. You see, some free radicals are actually beneficial — like the ones that fight off illnesses, for example. If you take too many antioxidant supplements, you could kill off the good free radicals too. Additionally, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), some antioxidant supplements may interact with medications. Keep that in mind when you add anything to your daily regimen.
Like we said if you eat a perfect diet and you follow the food pyramid to a T, taking more antioxidants isn’t for you. If your diet is lacking, your workouts are taxing, you are sick, or it’s polluted where you live, then you could probably use a little boost. Again, it’s all about balance. Be honest with yourself about what you are missing in your diet and go from there. No matter what, before you start a new supplement, talk to your doctor.
Are antioxidant supplements different from the antioxidants we get from real food?
The short answer is that, yes, antioxidant supplements are different from the antioxidants we get from real food. When we get antioxidants in our diet, they are perfect. All the other compounds and vitamins in the food help the antioxidants absorb and perform more effectively than antioxidants you take through supplements. Again, though, that only counts when we eat precisely what we’re supposed to and some of us struggle with that — which is where antioxidant supplements come in.
Who should take antioxidant supplements?
We already covered the fact that if you have a perfect diet, you probably don’t need antioxidant supplements. Although, never forget that you could have something else going on. Most of us, though, don’t have a perfect diet and could use some extra help. If you are missing out on a few servings of fruits and vegetables, especially, antioxidant supplements are for you.
Additionally, remember the list we posted above. If you find yourself suddenly feeling off for no reason, take note. If you notice that you aren’t sleeping well, feel tired, have brain fog, feel wiped out after workouts, or you suddenly have more pain, antioxidant supplements might be for you. It’s time to take back the upper hand and beat those free radicals into submission.
Six High-Quality Antioxidant Supplements You Should Try
Finally, let’s talk about the hottest antioxidant supplements on the market right now and what makes them stand out. Remember, there are a ton of different antioxidants and antioxidant supplements. You can get them for your hair, skin, brain, muscles, and eyes. That’s where you come in. With your doctor’s help, you can figure out which one will help you best replace what’s missing in your life. This list is in no particular order.
1. NOW Quercetin with Bromelain
One customer was so impressed with NOW Food’s Quercetin antioxidant supplements, that it drove them to write their first review ever. An overwhelming number of reviewers stated that taking this particular antioxidant supplement helped their allergies more than any allergy medication ever could. Quercetin is a plant pigment found in red wine and onions and treats inflammation and arthritis. Many users report that it does just that. We found this product on Amazon for $23 to $38, and it is rated 4.4 out of 5 stars.
2. IV for Life’s Optimized Liposomal Glutathione Softgels NO-TASTE
Next up we have a hard-hitter from IV for LIfe, and it’s a liposomal glutathione antioxidant supplement. Glutathione is such a powerful antioxidant that it’s known as “the mother of all antioxidant supplements.” It’s found primarily in foods like garlic, cabbage, and onions. As the body ages, glutathione levels drop. Most users report that taking these before a workout delivers a powerful punch of extra energy without any energy depletion after. Additionally, other users report a noticeable difference in liver function, and others report that their skin “glows.” This product is available from Amazon for $42 to $58, and it is rated 4.3 out of 5 stars.
3. Puritan’s Pride Lycopene 40mg, Supplement for Prostate and Heart Health Support
Third, we have 40mg rapid release softgels of lycopene from Puritan’s Pride. Lycopene is another powerful antioxidant, especially for your heart and prostate. One user said that he could avoid going to the bathroom much longer than he could without lycopene. Also, remember we talked about pollutants? Well, lycopene is a “red carotenoid pigment” present in tomatoes (it’s where they get their color), and studies show that it helps protect the liver from pesticides. You can find this product for $10 to $20. It has a rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
4. TruNature Vision Softgels Complex Lutein and Zeaxanthin Supplement
Now we are going to talk to the people that have vision problems. TruNature’s Vision Softgels contain two antioxidant supplements called lutein and zeaxanthin. These two compounds are found in green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale and help repair the damage free radicals do to our eyesight. One user reported that after only five weeks of use, they had “marked improvement” in their vision. You can find a two-pack of this powerful supplement for $32 to $45. It has an Amazon rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.
5. NOW Foods Natural Beta-Carotene
Number five on the list is a favorite amongst athletes and people who work out a lot — NOW Foods Beta-Carotene. Beta-carotene, like lutein and zeaxanthin, is great for your eyes because it’s a precursor for vitamin A, which you find in things like carrots. That’s exactly why people who work out a lot like it too. You see, you can’t take vitamin A because it is toxic by itself. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t suffer from a vitamin A deficiency. If you find you are extra sore after a workout, you should seriously consider adding beta-carotene to your routine. You can pick up these powerful antioxidant supplements for $9 to $21. It is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
6. Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C 500 mg
Last but not least we have vitamin C by Nature’s Bounty. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is an incredibly important antioxidant, especially during cold and flu season. You can find this antioxidant naturally in foods like oranges, strawberries, and kiwi. Vitamin C is hugely valuable to everyone because it helps a range of things like connective tissues, bones, blood vessels, skin, and even helps fight against infections. So, not only does vitamin C help keep your bones and blood vessels healthy for your workout — it keeps you healthy from all those colds people keep trying to give you afterward, as well. You can find this handy supplement for $5 to $10. It has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Have You Ever Tried an Antioxidant Supplement?
Well, there you have it folks — everything you need to know about antioxidant supplements. No matter what, make sure you check with your doctor before you start a regimen of these. Remember, too, that there are many different antioxidants with many different jobs. As you can see here, a lot of these compounds help with more than one thing, as well. Have you tried an antioxidant supplement? Tell us about it in the comments.