What are Antioxidants?

What are antioxidants?  Antioxidants are compounds that can inhibit oxidation which is what creates free radicals in your body that damage your cells and age you. 

Antioxidants can be categorized into two groups - water soluble and fat soluble. 

Water soluble antioxidants perform actions in the fluids of your cells. 

Fat soluble antioxidants act primarily on cell membranes.  Antioxidants that are both fat and water soluble will be able to penetrate all the way into your cells.

Antioxidants like lipoic acid and astaxanthin (which is what creates the pink or red color in salmon, shrimp, etc.) work everywhere.

Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that is very important for brain health and can protect from neuron damage. 

It has been shown to improve the production of certain neurotransmitters and cognitive function.

What are Antioxidants - How Many are There?

There are literally thousands of antioxidant compounds that can come from your diet and some important antioxidants are produced by your body. 

Antioxidants will fall into different groups such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, fatty acids, enzymes, hormones, or phytochemicals.

These are Some of the Different Types of Antioxidants

  • Antioxidant Vitamins - Vitamin A, C, E, and K are antioxidant vitamins.
  • Antioxidant Minerals - Iodide, Manganese, Selenium, Sulfur, and Zinc are antioxidant minerals.
  • Antioxidant Proteins - Alpha Lipoic Acid and Glutathione are antioxidant proteins.
  • Antioxidant Fatty Acids - Omega 3's are antioxidant fatty acids.
  • Antioxidant Enzymes/Co-Enzymes - Catalase, DHEA, SOD, Glutathione Peroxidase, Methionine Reductase, and Co-Enzyme Q10 are antioxidant enzymes.
  • Antioxidant Hormones - Estrogen and Melatonin are antioxidant hormones.
  • Antioxidant Phytonutrients or Phytochemicals - Resveratrol, Flavonoids (anthocyanins, catechines, quercetin), Carotenoids (astaxanthin, beta-carotene, lycopene), and Ellagic acid are antioxidant phytonutrients.

What are Antioxidants Role in Health?

In other words, what are antioxidants doing inside of our bodies? 

Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals before they can do harm to our cells. 

Free radicals form when we are exposed to radiation, chemicals, pollution, drugs, alcohol, pesticides, and are even created during metabolic processes.

For example, to make energy your cells will remove electrons (which are charged atomic particles which orbit around a nucleus) from sugars, fatty acids, and amino acids to add them to other molecules like oxygen. 

This metabolic process creates a highly reactive particle called free radicals.

Basically, antioxidants work by donating an electron to convert free radicals into harmless molecules. 

The donation of electrons by antioxidants protects cells from oxidative damage that leads to aging and various diseases.

What are Antioxidants Health Benefits

  • Prevents Heart Disease
  • Prevents Cancer
  • Sharpens Your Mind & Increases Energy
  • Reduces Blood Pressure
  • Provides Protection from Eye Problems
  • Slows the Effects of Aging
  • Keeps Your Skin from Wrinkling
  • Increases Your Sex Drive
  • Maintains Your Dental Health
  • Protects Your Liver
  • Supports Your Immune System
  • Improved Digestion & Allergy Relief
  • Balances Your Mood
  • Improves Sleep & Memory
  • Extends Your Life

What are Antioxidants Different Jobs?

The different types of antioxidants can participate in different chemical reactions in your body. 

Some antioxidants can suppress the formation of free radicals, while others can remove them before they cause damage. 

And some antioxidants can repair the damage caused by free radicals. 

Here are just a few different types of antioxidants and the many different jobs that they can perform inside of your body.

Vitamin E - is a fat soluble antioxidant which breaks the chain reactions of free radicals. 

Vitamin E is made up of 8 chemical structures that have differences in what they can do to protect your body, so be sure to get all 8 for the most protection. 

Besides its powerful antioxidant capabilities, vitamin E can also clean up plague and reverse development of cataracts.

Vitamin C - is a water soluble antioxidant that recycles vitamin E.  It also provides cells with a free radical "neutralizer". 

Vitamin C has the ability to suppress some viral genes thus preventing their replication and acts as a co-factor in enzymatic reactions.

Flavonoids - are a large group of water or fat soluble antioxidants that can recycle other antioxidants. 

Flavonoids also provide your cells with a free radical "neutralizer" and they can regulate free radicals that are produced from bodily functions. 

They also promote blood circulation and are anti-inflammatory antioxidants.

Glutathione - is a water soluble antioxidant that's called the "Master Antioxidant" because of its ability to regenerate itself and all of the antioxidants. 

Glutathione works non-stop in your cells fighting oxidative stress and it can also detoxify heavy metals. 

Alpha Lipoic Acid - is bound to a protein and is referred to as the "Universal Antioxidant" because of its ability to work in both the fat and water soluble parts of your cells. 

Alpha lipoic acid has the ability to recycle vitamin E, vitamin C, Coenzyme Q10, Glutathione, and itself.  It is made in your body and helps to convert glucose into energy.

What are Antioxidants Relationship to a Pro-oxidant?

Many substances are antioxidants, but not all antioxidants are created equal.  Antioxidants that can be made in our cells include enzymes, hormones, and glutathione. 

Other essential antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E, minerals, and phytochemicals must come from our diet.

Some antioxidants that use their electrons to neutralize free radicals become what is known as a pro-oxidant. 

Pro-oxidants induce oxidative stress and qualify as a type of free radical. 

Increased numbers of these pro-oxidants will increase your cellular distress.

Studies Show that Different Types of Antioxidants
Help Each Other!

For example:  Once vitamin E becomes a free radical itself, vitamin C can help vitamin E to regenerate back into its natural antioxidant form.

By helping vitamin E, vitamin C now becomes a free radical and can be regenerated back into its natural antioxidant form by the antioxidant Glutathione. 

Therefore, you will need a network of the different types of antioxidants that can work together.

Warning!  Some people may have a problem taking high dosages of antioxidant supplements like Ascorbic acid or vitamin C because of its ability to become a pro-oxidant.

Normal concentrations of vitamin C in your body are considered antioxidants, but in higher concentrations this vitamin can become a damaging pro-oxidant.

What are Antioxidants called Ketones?

Your brain is one of the hungriest organs!  More than 80 billion neurons are sending and receiving electrical signals 24 hours a day.

And to fuel your brain, you will need an ample supply of glucose or ketone bodies.

You provide your brain with glucose from carbohydrates that you consume daily.

Ketone bodies are the backup fuel when carbohydrates are limited which is what happens when you exercise strenuously, fast, or go on a low carb diet like the Ketogenic diet.

Ketone bodies are water soluble molecules that contain a ketone group.  Ketones are compounds that contain a carbon-oxygen double bond.

Surprisingly, ketone bodies may exert antioxidant abilities. 

Also, it is believed that using ketone bodies for energy instead of glucose lessens the production of damaging free radicals which can also mean less inflammation in your body. 

By the way, all flavonoid antioxidants are ketone-containing compounds!

What are Antioxidants Best Sources?

What are antioxidants best sources? 

Consuming nutrient dense foods instead of depending on supplements to supply antioxidants is a more effective choice.

High antioxidant levels in supplements that you consume don't necessarily translate into high levels found in the body. 

How much you benefit from antioxidants found in supplements will depend on how well your body can break down and use them.

Antioxidants are not very effective working on their own, they need the partnership and support of their fellow antioxidants.

The best way to create a solid antioxidant foundation for your health is through the combination of a well balanced diet that includes whole foods rich in antioxidants and limiting the amount of free radicals in your body.

Return to Antioxidant Rich Foods

Return to Healthy Foods