Antioxidant Supplements Versus Natural Sources

The word antioxidant has become an overused term in recent years that in many people’s minds it has become synonymous with an elixir of everlasting youth.

More people are buying into the marketing hype, without taking the time to research the true value of antioxidants. Researchers have proven that naturally occurring antioxidants significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s. However, this research is not about miracle drugs or unnatural supplements, but nutrients found in common everyday foods.

How Antioxidants Improve Your Health

Free radicals, chemicals in the human body that stabilize themselves by oxidizing useful molecules, are associated with diseases due to the oxidative stress, or oxidative damage this process causes the body. Since human beings live in an oxygen rich environment, free radicals are an unavoidable byproduct of simply being alive. By either preventing or slowing the oxidation process, antioxidants reduce the damages brought on by the free radicals thus enhancing the overall health and well-being of an individual.

Capitalizing on the public’s awareness of the benefits of antioxidants, the sales of antioxidant supplements have gone through the roof; however, recent researches have not been able to prove the health benefits of such purified antioxidant extracts. In fact, most researchers have concluded that just because an antioxidant present in a certain food is beneficial to human health, it does not mean that the same compound in a pill has the same benefits.

Simply extracting antioxidants and testing the chemicals under lab conditions is inappropriate, and because antioxidants are not drugs, you cannot expect antioxidants to react as drugs. Antioxidants are nothing more than nutrients which need other types of nutrients to work together to achieve the full benefits.

If you are confused by all the studies suggesting different results, remember the only consensus scientists have is that following a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is the best way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, vascular disease, and cancer.

One does not have to track down exotic produce from foreign lands just to find sources rich in antioxidants. In fact, most of the common fruits and vegetables that can be found in a local supermarket provide all the different types of antioxidants that an individual needs.

Common Food Sources of Antioxidants

  1. Vitamin A and carotenoids which can be found in squash, broccoli, carrots, peaches and apricots among others.
  2. Vitamin E which can be found in vegetable oil, liver oil, leafy vegetables, and nuts and whole grains.
  3. Vitamin C can be most commonly found in citrus fruits and leafy vegetables.
  4. Selenium is a chemical element which increases the body’s antioxidant capacity. It is most abundant in Brazil nuts, but can also be found in red meats, grains, fish and shellfish.
  5. Polyphenols, which are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants, can be found in red wine, pomegranate, soy, berries, and tea.
  6. Lycopene, another type of powerful antioxidant, is abundant in tomatoes and watermelon.

Stay Natural

Since there is yet a definitive answer on the effectiveness of antioxidant supplements, it might be a good idea to hold off on that next purchase. In the meantime, just stick to a simple diet of food high in flavonoids, a lot of fruits and vegetables, tea, and red wine in moderation. Until more researches point in a different direction, it might be a good idea to stick with the scientifically proven facts and enjoy the benefits that natural foods have to offer.

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