The focus of research on vitamins these days is how antioxidant supplements may play a role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Antioxidant supplements – E, C, and beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A) – have potential when it comes to health promotion. However, most data available about such health promoting properties of antioxidant supplements are incomplete. And only up to 30 percent Americans are taking some form of antioxidant supplements.
But what exactly are antioxidants and how important are they?
Antioxidants come in two forms. They can either be vitamins or minerals. They help prevent oxygen from reacting with other chemicals in cells. Such reactions – called oxidation – could lead to cell damage which may result in heart disease and cancer.
Antioxidants can be found in a variety of foods, but they are far more common in fresh fruits and vegetables. A health diet of fresh produce could lead to high levels of antioxidants in your body, which could only mean one thing – less free radicals (those harmful molecules that cause cell damage) and a healthier you.
When antioxidants start to work, they destroy the free radicals or break the chain. You see, here’s what happens when you have lots of free radicals in your body. Because they are highly unstable, these free radicals have the tendency to steal or get electrons from stable molecules and in so doing, make those molecules unstable as well, turning them into free radicals. This becomes a long chain and will go on and on until such a chain in broken. This is where antioxidants come in whose sole function is to break the chain and neutralize free radicals.
During the process of neutralization, the antioxidants are neutralized themselves. Hence, they also become oxidized. That is why the body needs a constant source of antioxidants to keep combating these harmful free radicals and stop them from multiplying.
With the kind of diet most of us have these days, it is very likely that we may not be getting enough antioxidants from the foods that we eat. And remember that the body needs to replenish its levels of antioxidants constantly. This is where antioxidant supplements come in.
Because the body may not be getting enough antioxidants because you don’t eat enough fruits or you don’t eat a lot of vegetables, you need an alternate source such as antioxidant supplements.
Antioxidant supplements are that source. And while antioxidant supplements can’t very well take the place of natural antioxidants, they can however aid in increasing the level of antioxidants in your body.