It’s true. Not all vitamins and minerals are created equal. While they take on roles to protect and help our health, some vitamins and minerals are feistier than others. As antioxidants, these nutrients are fighters. They include Vitamins A, C, E and selenium.
What exactly are antioxidants? Antioxidants inhibit cell damage caused by oxidation from free radicals. Oxidation happens when free radicals steal electrons from cells. We need free radicals for certain functions such as detoxifying the body. But when our antioxidants and free radicals get out of sync, free radicals can wreak havoc. Left unchecked, free radicals can damage cells, including proteins, DNA and cell membranes. This streak of damage can create a pathway to chronic disease, inflammation and accelerate the aging process.
Antioxidants counter by giving free radicals electrons and stopping free radicals in their tracks before causing more cell damage. Free radicals steal electrons, antioxidants give them back. But in order to fight these bad guys, you need to have antioxidants in your system. So where do you find them? We produce some antioxidants naturally, but less so with age. Here are a few of the most common antioxidants worth keeping a check on:
This antioxidant helps to boost immunity, support bone growth and promotes the production of new cells. It plays a role in maintaining the epithelial tissue that lines eyes and skin and serves as a bacteria barrier. Without it skin can become dry and flaky. Like Vitamin C, studies show it can boost collagen growth.
Amongst other things, this potent antioxidant helps to boost immunity by fighting off colds and other infectious diseases. It promotes cardiovascular and bone health. It’s antioxidant properties make it a strong ally in healthy aging, warding off wrinkles and maintaining fuller hair. It helps with both wound healing and controlling infections. It also is critical for the creation of collagen and the metabolism of proteins.
This antioxidant not only protects against cell damage, it promotes the healing of tissues, boosts immunity, improves blood circulation and supports eye health. Research has shown Vitamin E to help reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Like Vitamin A, it also helps to protect the epithelial tissue to keep skin looking healthy. In addition, it promotes nail growth.
As an antioxidant, the trace mineral selenium works particularly well in combination with Vitamin E. Low intake of selenium has been linked to an increased risk of disease, including cancers and heart disease. Selenium supports the adrenal and thyroid glands. It is thought to help protect cognition, boost immunity by fighting off viruses and protect against heart disease. As an antioxidant it helps to fight off signs of premature aging, and preserve elastin, the protein used to keep skin taught and smooth. It has been used to fend off acne and promote hair growth.
As an antioxidant Lutein helps to protect the eyes from the oxidative stress of harmful light waves. Studies have shown that multivitamins containing lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce the risk of macular degeneration. It has also been used to boost immunity and is thought to help protect against type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and certain cancers.