What Are Antioxidants?

Q. What are antioxidants?

A. Antioxidants are substances in the form of vitamins, minerals, and chemicals from flavonoids found in some plants that break down and clear free-radicals from the body. Free-radicals are chemicals that are produced from several sources, both natural and from pollutants and certain foods that cause premature aging and damage of healthy cells to unhealthy ones. Free radicals may develop in our body, from our own natural body chemistry, and also through exposure to certain pollutants in the environment. You may also be exposed to free radicals when your body breaks down certain pharmaceutical medications. Free radicals are also the byproduct of normal body metabolic processes, such as when your body breaks down sugars to produce energy, and from the release of digestive enzymes to break down food.

If possible, depending on your diet and budget, you should try to get most or all of your antioxidants into your body from a natural, healthy diet. Really, vitamins and other supplements are only necessary for people who have certain medical conditions or food allergies. There are plenty of great foods available at your local grocery stores that are loaded with antioxidants, making additional supplementation unnecessary. One study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association even pointed to findings that frequent use of certain vitamin supplements containing high concentrations of Vitamins A, E, and beta carotene may be harmful to certain patients.

Antioxidants include some Vitamins (such as Vitamins C and E), minerals (such as selenium), and flavonoids, which are found in plants. Plants that are rich in flavonoids include dark chocolate, wine, tea, and citrus fruits such as pomelo-grapefruit, Red Finger Lime, and Imperial Lemon. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants.

Antioxidants have their uses in the treatment of back pain, as well as other inflammatory diseases that are both systemic and related to the aging process, such as osteoarthritis. Since antioxidants are designed to neutralize the effects and presence of free radicals that bring about disease in cells, they are thought to treat other diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease, macular degeneration, some cancers, and coronary artery disease (CAD). The volumes of research in this subject clearly demonstrate the health benefits of antioxidants in treating infection and disease, at least through natural consumption. The research data is mixed as to the benefits of antioxidant delivery in the form of supplements and vitamins, with some studies even pointing to negative results.

The body, for several reasons, seems more equipped to take in foods that are high in antioxidants, and secreting what it doesn't need, for natural foods. The body seems to have a harder time with the absorption and secretion of artificial antioxidants, such as ones that are in pill form. In fact, high doses of certain antioxidant contain pills and supplements have been associated with harmful toxicity levels in the body, which may cause permanent harm to out delicate organs and digestive system organs.

Unless you have food allergies or other dietary restrictions, you should try to get your antioxidants from multiple fruit and vegetable sources as no single antioxidant alone can protect your body and clear the free radicals from your system. To maintain general health, and to get all of the free radicals we need, we should eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.