I see patients all the time who are confused about antioxidants. Often they think if they take vitamin C, they’ve got their bases covered. This just isn’t the case.
To understand why, let’s take a deeper look at how your body works.
When you eat food, the process your body uses to convert it to energy creates byproducts called free radicals. These free radicals are reactive molecules. When they encounter a healthy cell, they damage it and also create more free radicals. This process happens all through your body both in water-based tissues and in fat-based tissues.
Your body uses antioxidants to clean up free radicals. But to reach everywhere that clean-up is needed, you need some antioxidants that work in a watery environment and others that work in a fatty environment. Also, different free radicals are neutralized best by specific antioxidants.
In other words, you need a range of antioxidants to really take care of the free radicals in your body.
Here are some of the top antioxidants—including vitamin C—that will help keep your body young, healthy, and functioning at its best.
Vitamin C—The Old Standby
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that benefits you in a number of ways:
It supports your immune system and will help you to avoid getting sick or get over being sick faster.
– It’s a crucial nutrient for building collagen. Getting enough vitamin C makes your skin look better and it speeds healing when you are injured.
– Vitamin C improves your cholesterol levels, providing some protection against heart disease.
– It also helps your body clean up the free radicals that can cause cancer.
– It lowers your risk of developing cataracts as you age.
– It also reduces the symptoms of allergies and asthma.
I recommend at least 500 mg of vitamin C each day… 1000 mg is better. And to get the optimal benefit of Vitamin C, I suggest taking a brand-ingredient called Ester C. This delivery of Vitamin C is better metabolized and absorbed longer in your intestinal tract. You will certainly get more nutritional value with this particular Vitamin C.
Vitamin E—Slow Down Your Aging Process
If vitamin C is the water-soluble powerhouse, then vitamin E is its fat soluble counterpart.
Vitamin E stops cholesterol from oxidizing, the process that leads to plaque build-up in the arteries and eventually heart disease.
– It stops free radicals from damaging cellular membranes, helping to protect against many cancers.
– It protects nerve fibers in the brain from damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s.
– It also boosts the immune system and improves the health and appearance of your skin.
Take at least 400 IU of vitamin E each day. Choose a supplement that contains mixed tocopherols and mixed tocotrienols.
Alpha Lipoic Acid and Coenzyme Q10—the Crossover Team
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) are particularly important antioxidants because they work both in a fatty or a watery environment. That means they can provide antioxidant support wherever your body needs it. Take a look:
– ALA protects the nerves throughout your body from damage… this is especially important if you have diabetes.
– CoQ10 is a critical nutrient for proper muscle function—it’s a powerful nutrient for protection against heart disease.
– ALA helps your body to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, it protects the liver from damage by helping it remove toxins, and it helps extend the life and function of other antioxidants.
– CoQ10 helps your body and mind to stay younger longer, it prevents cancers from forming, and helps cells to function properly making them less susceptible to damage and disease.
For the best results, take 200 mg of ALA each day and least 30 mg of CoQ10.
Carotenoids, Flavonoids, and Polyphenols—the Special Forces Team
Carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols are micronutrients that work as antioxidants in the body. They work as specialized antioxidants helping to fight free radicals where you are most vulnerable. Carotenoids, as you learned in a recent issue, help protect you from vision loss as you age. The flavonoids in fruits and vegetables may offer extra protection against cancer and polyphenols can help fight heart disease and slow aging.
To boost your intake of these specialized antioxidants, eat more fruits and vegetables and eat a wide variety of them.
Antioxidants help your body in innumerable ways… don’t miss out on the benefits.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.