Antioxidants are bioactive substances that can have a beneficial effect on the human body. Their main source are vegetables and fruit, but they can also be found in other products, e.g. in red wine and dietary supplements.

Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, thereby protecting cells from damage and reducing the risk of developing serious diseases.

Antioxidants - what are they?

Antioxidants, also called antioxidants, are a group of chemical compounds that have the ability to inhibit or delay oxidation processes in human body. Their task is to neutralize free radicals and protect against oxidative stress.

Antioxidants can be divided into:

  • endogenous, which occur naturally in human body (e.g. glutathione, synthesized in cells by vitamin C),
  • exogenous, which must be supplied to the body with food or in the form of dietary supplements, e.g. beta-carotene or lutein.

What are free radicals and oxidative stress?

If antioxidants can neutralize free radicals, what exactly are they?

Free radicals are atoms, ions or molecules that have at least one unpaired electron. By striving to attach the missing electron, they are extremely reactive and thus can attack and damage other cells of the body.

Because free radicals often attack proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, which are part of cell membranes, or DNA molecules, are extremely dangerous for the human system.

And where do free radicals come from? These molecules can be formed as a result of:

  • numerous metabolic reactions,
  • environmental pollution,
  • using an unhealthy diet,
  • inappropriate lifestyle,
  • harmful radiation,
  • lack of sleep,
  • smoking.

Negative action of free radicals is usually a consequence of their excessive accumulation.

The action of antioxidants, on the other hand, may consist in transferring the missing electron to the free radical, which may cause neutralization of the molecule. Subsequently, free radical is removed from the body.

And what does oxidative stress have to do with all this?

When there is an excess of free radicals in human body, antioxidants may not keep up with their neutralization and deactivation. Then oxidative stress may occur, i.e. an imbalance between the action of reactive oxygen species and the ability to detoxify harmful compounds. Oxidative stress can increase the risk of developing many diseases and accelerate the aging process of the body.

Sources of antioxidants in diet

Fortunately, antioxidants are compounds, wich occur commonly in food. Therefore, using a healthy and balanced diet, we provide the body with many valuable substances.

Antioxidants are present incl. in food products such as:

  • vegetables,
  • fruit,
  • milk and dairy products,
  • wholemeal cereal products,
  • nuts and seeds,
  • dry legume seeds,
  • cereal sprouts,
  • red wine,
  • green tea,
  • eggs,
  • fish.

In case of increased demand of the body for antioxidants, e.g. as a result of excessive, long-term stress or during intense physical effort, it is also worth considering the use of dietary supplements rich in antioxidants so that the body "keeps up" with neutralizing free radicals and removing harmful molecules from the body.

Why are antioxidants important?

Providing the body with the right amount of antioxidants can strengthen the immune system and the body's immunity, as well as slow down the aging process.

In addition, a regular supply of antioxidants can support health and beauty, as well as reduce the risk of developing many serious diseases.

Antioxidants can not only neutralize free radicals, but also promote the regeneration of already damaged cells. They may also exhibit antimutagenic and anti-inflammatory effects.

The most popular and strongest antioxidants

Many of the compounds that we deliver to the body with food may have antioxidant effects. And that's good, because nowadays, when we are constantly exposed to harmful factors, stress and smog, it is really necessary. Popular and strong antioxidants are:

  • Astaxanthin - is an organic chemical compound from the xanthophylls group. Antioxidant effect of astaxanthin is estimated to be 54 times stronger than beta carotene and much stronger than vitamin C or E. Its source is the sea algae Haematococcus Pluvialis. It can deactivate free radicals, slow down the formation of reactive oxygen species, and also protect cells from damage.
  • Vitamin C - can increase the body's immunity, as well as have a positive effect on the complexion and skin tone. In addition, it can stimulate collagen synthesis and slow down the aging process.
  • Vitamin A - can support condition of skin and positively affect the vision process. Additionally, it can strengthen immune system, neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress.
  • Vitamin E - is the strongest vitamin antioxidant, referred to as the vitamin of youth. Its deficiency may contribute to the acceleration of aging processes in body. In addition to antioxidant activity, vitamin E can strengthen the body's immunity and support the course of metabolic processes.
  • Selenium - can positively affect the body's immunity, have a positive effect on the production of T and B lymphocytes and macrophages. Moreover, it can protect cells from oxidative stress.
  • Zinc - can reduce toxic effects of heavy metals, regulate work of circulatory system and participate in insulin biosynthesis. In addition, it can neutralize free radicals.
  • Lutein - can support vision and protect the retina from damage caused by free radicals. It can also inhibit their activity and accelerate their removal from the body.
  • Resveratrol - one of the strongest antioxidants that can be found, i.a. in grapes, as well as in red wine. It is with resveratrol that the French paradox is associatedi. The compound can have antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects. It can also inhibit red blood cell aggregation.
  • Quercetin- is a natural dye belonging to the group of flavonoids. In addition to antioxidant activity, it may also have anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.
  • Coenzyme Q10 - also called ubiquinone, is a vitamin-like substance, which can participate in metabolic changes necessary for life. Coenzyme Q10 present in cosmetics can protect skin against the harmful effects of environmental pollution. In addition, compound can neutralize free radicals and remove them from body.
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