We often hear about the importance of antioxidants or see labels boasting that something is an excellent source of antioxidants. Still, many people don’t fully understand the role that they play in your body. In short, antioxidants are a nutrient that helps your body to prevent damage to cells caused by free radicals. If you don’t know what free radicals are or how antioxidants help protect your body, read on.
What are Free Radicals?
Antioxidants are responsible for preventing cell damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals, which are also known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), are waste substances that cells produce as your body processes food or reacts to your environment. Without antioxidants, your body can’t neutralize free radicals, which leads to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress hurts your cells and impairs the functioning of your body.
In fact, oxidative stress has been connected to many age-related conditions in the body.
What Do Antioxidants Do?
Each type of antioxidant works differently, but together they work as a team to combat the free radicals your body produces as it processes food, breathes oxygen, or environmental toxins such as smoke and pollution. Antioxidants stop free radicals from forming, or they break them down before they can cause any damage.
What are Antioxidants?
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of substances that work as antioxidants. Each one plays a unique role in helping your body function. Antioxidants can also work with others to improve how you work. Because of this, the term antioxidant is not the name of a particular nutrient, but instead, it describes how a nutrient works to fight free radicals.
Your body produces some antioxidants, and you receive others from the foods you eat or supplements you take. Antioxidants that come from outside your body include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, manganese, beta-carotene, and many more. It’s essential to remember that each antioxidant plays a different role. Each one is unique and can’t be interchanged with another, which is why it is crucial to have a varied and balanced diet.
Plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables are a good source of antioxidants. If a fruit or vegetable is especially rich in antioxidants, you may hear it called a “superfood.”
Antioxidants are a crucial part of your body’s functioning. They protect your body from free radicals, which can lead to premature aging and unwanted health conditions over time. Pay attention to the foods you eat and prioritize consuming the nutrients you need.