Oxidants are the byproducts of the many biological processes that occur within our bodies on a daily basis. Free radicals are a type of oxidant. Free radicals are created from toxins in our environment like cleaning products, pesticides, radiation, heavy metals in our water supply and tobacco smoke. These toxins, some of which are carcinogens, enter into our bodies by mouth and skin and form free radicals. They are termed free radicals because they are molecules that are capable of existing on their own yet will attack other healthy cells in the body. It is believed that signs and symptoms of aging are in fact the breakdown of these attacked cells. Oxidants can also be produced as a result of stress, poor diet, and chronic illness.

The term oxidative stress is used when we have a high quantity of these oxidants in our bodies. In order to combat this condition, nature has provided us with the perfect superhero: antioxidants. Antioxidants are amazing chemical compounds that have the unique ability of being able to attach themselves to harmful oxidants and neutralize them. So when the body is in a state of oxidative stress, we can prevent cell damage (thereby warding off illness, disease, and accelerated aging) by consuming foods that contain potent antioxidant compounds.

Becoming Your Own Nutritionist

Below is a list of the most common and most accessible antioxidants and their food sources.

AntioxidantFunctionSigns of DeficiencyFood Sources
Vitamin Ahelps to protect  against infection and will help strengthen your immune systemacne, dry skin, poor vision, dandruff, and frequent coldsfound in beef liver, carrots, cabbage, sweet potatoes, mangos, tomatoes, broccoli and tangerines
Vitamin Ca water soluble nutrient that is great at  neutralizing free radicalsbleeding or tender gums, easy bruising, slow wound healing, red pimples on the skin, frequent colds and infectionsfound in bell peppers, tomato, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, lemons, kiwi, oranges, grapefruits, and limes
Vitamin EA fat soluble vitamin that helps the body to use oxygen, form red blood cells, and neutralizes free radicals in the bodyeasy bruising, slow wound healing, lack of sex drive, infertility, varicose veinsfound in wheat germ oil, nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, tuna, salmon and sweet potatoes
CoenzymeQ10fat soluble antioxidant made in the body; critical for good heart health, maintaining energy and blood pressurepoor immune function, and heart diseasefound in organ meats, sardines, mackerel, soybean oil, spinach, and peanuts
Seleniumthis mineral’s antioxidant properties help to protect against free radicals and carcinogens; supports the immune system, and is vital to a healthy male reproductive systemsigns of premature aging, cataracts, high blood pressure, frequent infections, family history of cancerfound in tuna, oysters, cottage cheese, cabbage, beef liver, and cod

 

Carotenoidnatural pigment in fruits and veggies that help to  protect against heart disease and helps to lower the risk of certain types of cancer such as prostate and breast cancerfound in brightly colored red, green, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables
Bioflavonoidnatural pigment in fruits and veggies that acts as a powerful antioxidant; also known for anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-allergen properties

 

Easy bruising, varicose veins, frequent sprainsfound in fruits and veggies that are blue, purple, and deep red in color

*also found in dark chocolate

 

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