Do You Need Antioxidants Supplements?
Antioxidant is a buzz word in the fitness industry, particularly with fitness beverages and sports drinks. Sports drinks with superfruits and antioxidants? Buy them! But what is an antioxidant? Do we really need them in our Gatorade? What do they do? Do we get them from our food, or does our body create them on its own?
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are molecular compounds that prevent oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction process that produces free radicals. You might associate free radicals with cancer and other scary diseases, and you’d be right.
What are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are molecules that contain an unpaired electron in its atomic orbital. Free radicals are capable of independent existence, and the unpaired valence electron makes the radicals highly reactive and unstable. Free radicals can donate or accept electrons from other molecules in the body, making them oxidants. Some free radicals are more damaging than others and can impair DNA, proteins, carbs, and lipids (or fats). This attack on macromolecules often leads to disruption in the body’s homeostasis and damage to cells.
Some normal metabolic processes produce free radicals, but other external sources lead to their production as well. Things like:
- Air pollution
- Cigarette smoking
- Industrial chemicals
Even things that are good for your health can produce free radicals, like exercising. Too many free radicals can lead to oxidative stress.
What is Oxidative Stress?
The term oxidative stress refers to a condition within the body in which the balance of free radicals to antioxidants is unfavorable.
Oxidative stress is associated with lots of adverse conditions, such as:
- The start and progression of cancer
- Complications of diabetes
- Eye disease
- Neurodegenerative disease
- Inflammatory diseases
- The process of aging
- Ischemic diseases (heart disease, stroke, etc.)
How do Antioxidants Help?
Free radicals are unstable molecules. Antioxidants, on the other hand, are very stable. Antioxidants can donate one of their electrons, effectively neutralizing a rampant, free radical and reducing the damage done. Normal metabolic processes within the body produce some antioxidants, just like they create free radicals. However, we must consume other lighter and more effective antioxidants through our diet.
The most potent antioxidants are:
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C
The body cannot manufacture any of the above antioxidants; we have to get them from our food.
Whole foods rich in these vitamins are:
- Onion and garlic
- Eggplant, grapes, berries
- Pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, carrots, spinach, parsley
- Red wine, tea
- Seafood, lean meats, dairy, nuts
- Apples, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower
- Soy products, lentils, peas
- Sesame seeds, whole grains
- Corn, tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit
- Herbs and spices
- Sweet potatoes, eggs
- Oranges, kiwi, strawberries
- Avocados, seeds
- Red meat
Should You Take Antioxidant Supplements?
Do you need antioxidants? Yes. However, do you need antioxidant supplements? Maybe. As with any other dietary supplement, you should aim to consume all your macro and micronutrients, including antioxidants, through whole foods.
Many people struggle to eat varied diets rich in the fruits and vegetables necessary to provide all the vitamins and minerals the body needs. Even if they eat relatively balanced diets, some people still worry that they might lack essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Supplements exist for this reason – to ensure your body is getting what it needs.
Antioxidant Supplements to Consider
Multi-Vitamins with Antioxidants
Allmax VitaForm – Most multi-vitamins include adequate doses of antioxidants, and VitaForm is no exception. VitaForm by Allmax provides daily recommended amounts of vitamin C, biotin, vitamins A, E, B1, B6, vitamin K1, iodine, manganese, and more. Ensure your body has all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed to thrive and support bone, skin, and joint health. You’ll also support digestive health and immune function and get a boost of energy from green tea extract.
Vitamin C Supplements
Alora Naturals Vitamin C – If you are only interested in supplementing with one vitamin, choose Vitamin C. As we know, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C also plays critical roles in teeth and gum health, injury repair, iron absorption, collagen formation, and healthy blood pressure levels. Vitamin C is further used to support immune function and reduce common cold and flu symptoms.
R-Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplements
Allmax R+ALA – R-Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant that increases the circulation of blood and nutrients to your muscles before, during, and after your workout. Not only does this supplement contain antioxidants to fight free radicals, but it also balances insulin levels.
Protein Supplements with Antioxidants
Vega One – An all-in-one protein shake that contains greens and 50% the daily recommended values of eleven vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and E, in addition to twenty grams of protein. Vega is a great vegan supplement brand with quality, plant-based ingredients. The Vega One protein shake also includes probiotics, omega fatty acids, and fibre. This shake is ideal for a morning breakfast shake.
Meal Replacements with Antioxidants
Mammoth Meal – A meal replacement rich in macro and micronutrients. Mammoth meal contains ten grams of protein, ten grams of carbs, and 2.25 grams of fat per scoop. A couple of scoops make an excellent meal replacement due to the macronutrients. It also includes EAAs, probiotics, and fruit and vegetable complexes for antioxidants and electrolytes. Mammoth meal has an incredible taste and impressive quality.
EAAs with Antioxidants
Mammoth EAA – Essential amino acids are necessary for muscle preservation and growth, and EAA supplements often include added hydration factors to support your cells during or after a workout. Mammoth EAAs include all nine EAAs, including the three BCAAs, natural electrolytes, and antioxidants. Consuming antioxidants immediately post-workout can aid in recovering from the oxidative stress that happens as a result of challenging workouts.
The body needs antioxidants to ward off nasty free radicals. While not all free radicals are damaging, most are incredibly dangerous when left to their own devices. Antioxidants rush to donate electrons to free radicals, effectively stabilizing them and minimizing their damage. By ensuring your diet is rich in antioxidants like vitamin E, C, and B-carotene, you can rest knowing that your body is able to fight off free radicals and prevent excessive damage to your cells. If you’re worried about consuming adequate antioxidants through your diet alone, supplements are a great way to bridge the gaps!