Thursday, September 1, 2011

The most highly antioxidant vitamins are vitamins C and E, with B coming in at a close second. These vitamins are found in most fruits and vegetables and have various other benefits for the body too helping the immune system and the repair of skin cells.
Antioxidant vitamins work by protecting the cells in the body against the harmful battery of free radicals that contain oxygen molecules and thereby almost ‘rust’ our cells.
Over time this battery can cause the cells to look visible damaged, and eventually break through the cell wall to damage the nucleus which contains the vital DNA. Then when this DNA reproduces via mitosis (splitting down the centre to create two exact copies) it will spread the damage into the new cells, and more so when they divide. This can cause all sorts of problems and may eventually lead to the development and growth of cancer cells. In other areas such as the heart and nervous system where the cells do not divide or reproduce at all, any damage done to individual cells will be irreparable.
Antioxidant vitamins however prevent this damage by breaking chains of oxidative activity and by preventing them from beginning in the first place (and also have the added bonus of improving the immune system).
By consuming additional antioxidants then (particularly in older age when the body stops producing as many natural antioxidants) the individual can help stave off the visible signs of ageing, prevent against cancer, protect against heart disease and slow cognitive decline.
Vitamin C is perhaps the most researched and one of the most abundant of the antioxidant vitamins. Also known as ascorbic acid, it is a ‘water soluble’ vitamin that’s found in all of the bodily fluids making it our ‘first line of defence’. This antioxidant cannot be stored in the body so it’s important to get a regular supply, and fortunately it can be found in a wide variety of food sources – including citrus fruits, green peppers, broccoli, green vegetables, strawberries, potatoes, raw cabbage, cereal, poultry, beef and fish. Vitamin C is also very beneficial for the immune system and is often advised for use against infections such as the common cold and flu.
Vitamin E meanwhile is a fat soluble substance also called ‘alpha tocopherol’. It can be stored along with fat in the liver and fat cells and so can be used as a ‘store’ of antioxidant material. It is promoted for various properties, particularly for its positive impact on the skin – delaying ageing, preventing sun damage and healing scars (it is therefore included in a lot of face creams). It can be found in wheat germ, seeds, whole grains, green vegetables, broccoli, mango, corn, oil, fish-liver oil, nuts (particularly almonds) and soybean.
While all antioxidant vitamins can be found in supplements it is recommended that you look for them in their natural states in vegetables and fruits as this way you won’t risk over dose (some antioxidants can in fact be healthy) and will get all the benefits from the other important minerals and vitamins therein.

Source: Health Guidance

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