Health Benefits of Antioxidants and Antioxidant Supplements

Significance of food rich in antioxidants explained!

health benefits of antioxidants

Lack of immunity results in the inability of your body to fight against infections.  The body becomes weak and more prone to common cold, cough, flu, etc.

Also, during bad weather conditions such as rains and cold seasons the frequency of a number of people falling ill increases. Since these common infections are contagious, they spread easily.

Now in such situations, if your immunity is low, you can easily fall prey to these illnesses. Hence, it is important for you to keep your immune system strong.

How To Keep Your Immune System Strong?

One of the major health benefits of antioxidants is building a strong immunity system. Antioxidants are responsible for your immunity. Lack of antioxidants in your diet causes cell damage and makes you fall ill often. So, having a well-balanced diet which is rich in antioxidants will help you fight against cell damage and  keep your immunity system strong.

What Are Antioxidants?

Now, let us see what exactly these antioxidants are. Antioxidants are vitamins, nutrients and minerals that protect your cells and repair cell damage caused by free radicals.

This if not taken care of, may lead to some chronic diseases such as arthritis, atherosclerosis and cancer. Free radicals can also affect your immune system.

So antioxidant helps to keep your immune system strong and make you get rid of your flu, cold and other infections quickly.

health benefits of antioxidants

From Where Can You Get These Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are moderately available in your regular diet. Some of the good sources of antioxidants are colorful fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts. These colorful fruits and vegetables mainly contain antioxidants; beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E.

For complete health benefits, you can eat these vegetables raw or lightly steamed. Some other antioxidant foods are apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, corn, green peppers, mangoes, kale, turnip and nectarines, collard greens, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, spinach, tangerines, tomatoes, squash, and watermelon.

What Are The Antioxidants Benefits?

  1. Prevents Cell Damage
  2. Protects the Cell from Free Radicals.
  3. Boosts Immunity.
  4. Antioxidants can reverse aging and blood vessel abnormalities.
  5. Fights Aging.
  6. Lowers Cholesterol Levels
  7. Improves peripheral Blood Circulation
  8. Memory Power Enhancer.

If you are not able to get enough antioxidants through your regular diet, you may opt for antioxidant supplements. In general, a good quality antioxidant tablets may contain the following composition.

Let us have a look in details at the advantages of antioxidants each and every component.

Lycopene

Lycopene belongs to tomato species, a bright red carotene, found in tomatoes and other red colored fruits and vegetables such as red bell peppers, carrots, gac, watermelons, and papayas (but not strawberries or cherries). Foods that are not in red color may also contain lycopene.

Due to its non-toxicity and strong color; lycopene is approved as a food coloring agent. Although lycopene is a carotenoid, it does not have vitamin A activity.

Lycopene is commonly found in the dishes prepared from tomatoes. When absorbed from the stomach, lycopene is transported in the blood by various lipoproteins and accumulates in the liver, adrenal glands, and testes.

Sources Of Lycopene

Tomatoes, pink grape fruit, gac, papaya, pink guava, wolfberry (goji, a berry relative of tomato), seabuckthorn and rosehip. Gac (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng) contains the highest content of lycopene than any other known vegetable or fruit. Lycopene content of tomatoes increases as the fruit ripens.

Unlike other vegetables and fruits, processing of tomatoes increases the Lycopene’s bioavailability concentration. Lycopene’s bioavailability is four times more in tomato paste than in fresh tomatoes; hence tomato paste is preferred than raw tomatoes.

Cooking and crushing tomatoes (canning process) and serving in oil-rich dishes (spaghetti sauce or pizza) greatly increases the absorption from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.

Other than vegetables and fruits, Lycopene is also obtained from the fungus Blakeslea trispora. As mentioned before, the foods that are not in red color also may contain lycopene, e.g., dried parsley, asparagus, and basil.

Mechanism Of Lycopene In The Body

After ingestion, lycopene is incorporated into lipid micelles in the small intestine. These micelles are formed from dietary fats and bile acids, and help to solubilize the hydrophobic lycopene and allow it to permeate the intestinal mucosal cells by a passive transport mechanism.

Lycopene is incorporated into chylomicrons and released into the lymphatic system. In blood plasma, lycopene is eventually distributed into the very low and low density lipoprotein fractions. Lycopene is mainly distributed to fatty tissues and organs such as the adrenal glands, liver, prostate and testes.

Health Benefits Of Lycopene

Several research studies show that Lycopene intake from the diet reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer. When it comes to prostate cancer, breast cancer and bladder cancer, proper evidence is not there to come to any conclusion about Lycopene effect on these types of cancer.

Some research works show that a higher level of lycopene in the blood reduces the risk of heart disease. But some other studies show that there is no link between lycopene intake and heart disease.

Women with higher levels of lycopene in their blood seem to get over human papilloma virus (HPV) infections.

Lycopene also helps the patients with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), cataracts and asthma patients.

Lycopene may help the infertility patients. Studies showed that lycopene can boost up the sperm concentration in men. Lycopene helps in preventing diabetes, osteoporosis and age-related macular degeneration. Lycopene prevents the aging of skin and keeps you look younger.

Side effects: Excessive and prolonged use of tomato juice causes discoloration of skin, known as lycopenodermia. Some other effects of excess intake of Lycopene are nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, gas and loss of appetite.

Grape Seed Extract

Grape seed extracts are the active ingredients obtained from whole grape seeds which have a great concentration of flavonoids, vitamin, phenolic procyanidins and linoleic acid. This grape seed extract is used to treat various diseases.

Grape seed extract is beneficial for a number of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and high blood cholesterol levels. It also reduces swelling due to injury and helps with eye disease due to diabetes. Grapes is one of the antioxidants fruits, which protect the cells from damage and prevent many diseases. It may also help in wound healing.

The only source of Grape seed extract is from grapes.

Health Benefits of Grape Seed Extract

Grape seed extract shows affect on heart diseases such as high levels of blood cholesterol, hypertension, platelet aggregation and cancer. According to some studies there is reliable scientific evidence that drinking red wine, eating grapes can prevent or treat cancer in people.

Grape seed extract studies show that it helps in healing of injured skin in mice. It retards the growth of bacteria that causes dental caries. It enhances the bone density and strength in animals.

In vitro cancer studies shows that “grape seed proanthocyanidins” reduce the malignancy of papillomas and decrease tumor numbers. It has anti-viral effects and enhances liver function.

There are 13 clinical trials assessing potential effects of grape seed extracts on human diseases, such as blood estrogen levels in postmenopausal women, breast cancer, and coronary artery disease.

Out of these trials it is concluded that grape seed extract significantly lower heart rate and systolic blood pressure, with no effect on lipid or protein levels.

Due to the proanthocyanidins action on limiting platelet adhesion, grape seed extract may act as a blood-thinner, increasing clotting time.

Grape seed extract suppress the conversion of testosterone to estradiol and acts as an aromatase inhibitor

Side effects: Headache, nausea, itchy scalp and dizziness are some of the side effects of Grape seed extract.

If you are allergic to grapes, grape seed extract is not recommended for you. Patients with high blood pressure should take doctors advice before using grape seed extract.

Grape seed extract might interact with drugs like NSAID (aspirin, advil, aleve), blood thinners, certain heart and cancer medications.

Grape seed extract is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women and children.

Green Tea Extract

Green tea extract is an herbal product made from green tea leaves (Camellia sinensis). It is one of the natural antioxidants as it contains an ingredient; green tea catechins (GTC). Green tea extract improves thinking and mental alertness.

It can be used as antioxidant, anti-radiation, anticarcinogen and anti-inflammatory.

Constituents Of Green Tea Extract

Green tea catechins (GTC), includes four major epicatechin derivatives; namely, epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin (EC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

Other components include three different flavonoids, known as myricetin, kaempferol and quercetin. Higher content of myricetin is detected in tea extracts than in many other plants, where as this high concentration of myricetin may have some implications with the bioactivity of tea extracts.

Caffeine may be excluded in green tea extracts in order to avoid side-effects; caffeine-free green tea extract supplements are now available.

Recent scientific studies show that green tea extracts have anticarcinogenic property which shows inhibitory effects on cancer cells. Studies explain that catechin and caffeine block the cell cycle of cancer cells (cytotoxicity) and induce programmed cell death.

Green tea extract is also used for weight loss and to treat vomiting, stomach disorders, diarrhea, headaches, osteoporosis and solid tumor cancers.

How Does Green Tea Extract Work?

Green tea extract is prepared by steaming fresh leaves of green tea at higher temperature. During this process it maintains polyphenols, which are responsible for many benefits of green tea.

Polyphenols may prevent swelling and inflammation, lessen joint degeneration and protect cartilage between the bones. They may fight human papilloma virus (HPV) infections and reduce abnormal cell growth. But proper evidence is not there for these studies.

Caffeine increases the urine output, affects thinking and alertness and helps in Parkinson’s disease by improving the function of brain messengers. Caffeine acts as neurotransmitter; stimulates the nervous system, muscles and heart.

Antioxidants and some other substances in green tea extract protect the heart and blood vessels.

Health Benefits Of Green Tea Extract

Elderly patients, in particular, Green tea extract helps in preventing dizziness upon standing (orthostatic hypotension).

Women, who regularly drink green tea, may reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer when compared to the women who never drink tea. It also helps in preventing esophageal, bladder and pancreatic cancers.

Green tea is also used for Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, diseases of the heart and blood vessels, low blood pressure , diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), kidney stones, dental cavities (caries) and skin damage.

Green tea bags are used to decrease puffiness under eyes and to stop gum bleeding after tooth removal. These bags also soothe sunburn and prevent skin cancer.

Drinking two to four cups green tea daily reduces the risk or delay the onset of Parkinson’s disease

Green tea reduces the cholesterol and triglyceride levels in blood. It is used in ointment for genital warts.

Some scientific research studies show insufficient evidence for green tea effect on weight loss, high blood pressure, stroke prevention, and some type of cancers like breast, lung, stomach, cervical, and some other diseases.

Precautions

Short-term use of green tea is safe for elder patients. Very rare cases reported to cause liver problems due to green tea extract. In some people, it can cause constipation and stomach upset.

Excessive intake of green tea (more than five cups per day) is unsafe. Because of caffeine it causes side effects like nervousness, vomiting, irritability, headache, sleep problems, dizziness, and convulsions.

2 cups of green tea per day is safe for pregnant and breast feeding women. Excessive consuming of green tea cause negative effect in unborn baby and affect the nursing infant.

Caffeine affects blood sugar level, heartbeat and blood pressure. If you are having any of theses problems, you should consult doctor before taking green tea.

Limited intake of green tea (2-4 cups a day) is recommended and essential for all.

Methylcobalamin

For healthy development and proper functioning of your nervous, circulatory and immune systems, you need methylcobalamin. Some good sources of methylcobalamin are eggs, fish, meat, dairy products and liver.

Methylcobalamin gives you a quick relief from depression. It plays a key role in sleep. It repairs nerve damage and implement nerve cell regeneration.

Ascorbic Acid

L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C, is required by all age groups. It is a natural ingredient of many fruits, vegetables, melons and berries.

L-ascorbic acid acts as antioxidant and is used as preservatives, color stabilizers and it is used in various foods and beverages.

Vitamin A Acetate

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for everyone. Vitamin A deficiency causes loss of night vision, other vision problems, reproduction defects, bone growth defects and differentiation of epithelial tissues.

Vitamin A is naturally found in cod liver oil, liver(beef, pork, fish), carrot, broccoli, sweet potato, butter spinach, pumpkin, egg, papaya, mango, etc.

Vitamin A plays a major role in the treatment of night blindness. Vitamin A is also used to treat dermatology problems. It acts as an antioxidant and improves the immune function. Currently higher doses of this vitamin are also used to treat cancer and HIV.

Folic Acid

Folic acid improves endothelial function in coronary artery disease acutely by a mechanism largely independent of homocysteine.

Some good sources of folic acid are leafy vegetables (asparagus, turnip greens, spinach, lettuce), legumes (peas, beans and lentils), bakers yeast, egg yolk, sunflower seeds etc.

A pregnant woman needs an adequate intake of folic acid in order to prevent neural-tube defects. It also increases the sperm quality in men and reduces the risk of stroke and colorectal cancer.

Folate deficiency might lead to depression and brain defects.

Biotin

It is a B complex vitamin, an essential nutrient. Rich sources of biotin are green leafy vegetables, saskatoon berries, egg yolk and swiss chard.

All the immune, metabolic and clinical disorders are improved by biotin administration. Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis vulgaris, rheumatoid arthritis or atopic dermatitis have biotin deficiency; hence they are treated with biotin. Biotin helps in preventing neuropathic disorders.

Thiamine Mononitrate

All living organisms use thiamine, which is synthesized only in bacteria, fungi, and plants. In mammals, deficiency of this results in optic neuropathy, Korsakoff’s syndrome and a disease called beriberi which affects the peripheral nervous system (polyneuritis).

Some high concentrations of thiamine are pork, cereals, whole grains, yeast and yeast extract. It is present in low concentrations in wide variety of foods.

Thiamine decreases the risk of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS). It prevents cataracts and helps people with various genetic disorders including maple syrup urine disease and Leigh’s disease.

Riboflavin

Vitamin B2,maintains human and animal health. In healthy individuals it is continuously excreted in urine which may cause its deficiency if one has an unbalanced diet.

Deficiency of riboflavin is mostly followed with deficiency of other vitamins. Some good sources of riboflavin are leaf vegetables, mushrooms, legumes, milk, cheese and almonds. Riboflavin destroys when exposed to light.

Riboflavin mainly helps in the treatment of neonatal jaundice by phototherapy. Higher doses of riboflavin prevent migraine. Riboflavin along with UV light reduces the ability of harmful pathogens in blood products which cause disease.

Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6)

Vitamin B6 balances sodium and potassium levels and promotes production of red blood cell. Pyridoxine deficiency may cause anemia, skin problems, seizures, nerve damage, and sores in the mouth.

Some rich sources of pyridoxine are fish, meat, eggs brewer’s yeast, carrots, sunflower seeds, chicken, spinach, walnuts and wheat germ.

Pyridoxine balances hormonal changes in women and improves the immune system. It helps cardiovascular health by decreasing homocysteine formation. It prevents peripheral neuropathy. Pyridoxine-dependent epilepsy patients require pyridoxine treatment.

Niacinamide (Nicotinamide)

Nicotinamide is a vitamin B group and a water-soluble vitamin.

Abundant sources of nicotinamide include shiitake mushrooms, mushrooms, chicken, tuna, asparagus, halibut, salmon, and turkey.

Nicotinamide is an effective skin whitener. It has anti-inflammatory actions which benefits the patients with inflammatory skin conditions. It is used as an anti-anxiety, antiamnestic and antihypoxic agent and also to prevent immunosuppression.

Calcium Pantothenate

Calcium pantothenate is often used in dietary supplements, which is more stable in the digestive mentation, improves oxygen utilization efficiency and reduces lactic acid accumulation in athletes.

Major source of pantothenic acid is meat, outer layers of whole grain, broccoli and avocados. Significant sources in nature are royal jelly and cold water fish ovaries.

Pantothenic acid derivatives improve the lipid profile in the blood and liver. It has an effect of wound healing. Pantothenic acid lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which decreases the risk of stroke and myocardial infraction.

Zinc

Zinc is a naturally occurring mineral. It is important for development and for the growth of health body tissues.

Zinc plays a major role either as an activator of certain enzymes or as a coenzyme in many metabolic reactions. It has been mentioned that relatively large excesses of zinc salts in the diet can lead to metabolic dysfunctions.

Selenium (as Sodium Selenite)

Dietary selenium comes from cereals, meat, mushrooms, nuts, eggs and fish. Brazil nuts are the richest ordinary dietary source. Kidney, tuna, crab, and lobster are also the selenium sources.

Selenium sulfide is an active ingredient in some anti-dandruff shampoos. Selenium compound kills the scalp fungus Malassezia, which shows the symptoms like shedding of dry skin fragments.

It is also used in body lotions to treat Tinea versicolor. Hope, now you got an idea all about the health benefits of antioxidants and their composition.

Follow the above information and make sure your diet contains antioxidants. If your regular diet does not have enough antioxidants, some experts may recommend taking of antioxidant supplements. For any queries or suggestions please fill in the comments section below.

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Eat healthy and be healthy”.

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