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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Antioxidant Sources

Antioxidants are an important component to a healthy body (and therefore healthy skin). Below are some of the antioxidant sources available today. Some in supplement form, others from food sources. Acquainting yourself with where you can find antioxidants for your diet is crucial to keeping your insides functioning on the highest of healthy levels.

Antioxidants help rid the body of free radicals; free radicals contribute to the destruction of healthy cells. If you are eating a balanced diet with a high fruit and vegetable content, you are probably getting lots of antioxidants. But diets are not so balanced for many people. I’m not a big believer in taking pills, especially using supplements as a way of substituting for a poor diet. However, due to our modern lifestyles and busy schedules, supplementing is not only inevitable, but probably necessary. Here are some of the many supplement sources to add more antioxidants into your diet.

Alpha lipoic acid and protective are synonymous. A powerful antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid has the ability to actually help regenerate other antioxidants that have been wounded in the process of ridding the body of free radicals. Alpha lipoic acid can also be very helpful in regulating blood sugar levels. This is something that diabetics and people who suffer from hypo- or hyperglycemia may want to know about. I am interested in alpha lipoic acid not only for its antioxidant abilities but also for its benefits with inflammation; both of these factors have an effect on the health of your cells. And as with many of the supplements available in the anti-aging range, anything that increases the health of your body will naturally be reflected in healthier-looking skin.

Alpha lipoic acid in supplement form is fairly expensive. As an ingredient in skin care products, alpha lipoic acid is outrageously expensive. Even if these products did work wonders for your lines and wrinkles, unless you are well-off financially, you will never be able to afford to keep up this habit. You’ll just have to age with the rest of us and find less expensive ways to keep your skin looking clear, healthy, and if you must, young. I’m still not convinced putting alpha lipoic acid, vitamin C, or any other anti-aging miracle ingredients topically on your skin is truly effective against aging. I prefer to eat my vitamins, whether in food or with supplements.

There is no RDA (recommended daily allowance) for alpha lipoic acid; recommendations vary from 10mg to 600mg daily. Doses over 100mg might have the effect of lowering blood sugar levels in some individuals, even non-diabetics. I am prone to hypoglycemia so I closely monitored how I felt when I first started experimenting with alpha lipoic acid. When I took 100-200mg per day, I had no adverse reaction in regard to my blood sugar levels.

Note: Alpha lipoic acid should not be confused with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 essential fatty acid. They are both beneficial for different reasons.

Also known as ubiquinone, Coenzyme Q10 (more commonly called CoQ10) has shown signs of rejuvenating brain cells in laboratory animals. There is no conclusive evidence yet to show there is an appreciable difference in the human brain, but tests are underway to bring new information to the forefront. What is known is CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant. It has been shown to help boost the power of vitamin E in the fatty part of cells. This is the part that can sustain the worst free radical damage. These fatty cells are concentrated in the brain, so taking CoQ10 may help to protect the all-important brain. There is no established dosage for Coenzyme Q10.

Grape seed extract enjoyed a bit of popularity a few years ago, but has since slipped behind so many of the up and coming antioxidants. Grape seed extract, however, is an excellent source of a complex of antioxidants called OPCs (oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes). You can take capsules ranging anywhere from 250-1000mg daily. It is the OPCs in red wine that is thought to be good for certain health issues. Grape seed extract is the best all around source for OPCs, so don’t drink wine as your only source for this complex of antioxidants!

If vitamin C isn’t the best-known antioxidant, surely it is the bestknown vitamin. It started when we were kids, hearing how vitamin C helps to keep the common cold away. In fact Vitamin C and the Common Cold is the title of a wonderful book written by Dr. Linus Pauling. Among many other contributions (both social and scientific), Linus Pauling is perhaps best known by the general public for his research and advocacy of high-dosing vitamin C. This investigative pioneer began ground-breaking research into the value and disease-fighting ability of vitamin C, and lived to the ripe age of 93 (1901-1994). He truly was an example of his research and work in nutritional studies.

Now we know that vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants. It is helpful with brain function as well as repairing free radical damage. One of the more interesting benefits of vitamin C is its ability to improve the quality as well as the quantity of brain transmissions. Translation: it helps your brain function optimally.

Vitamin C helps with many other bodily functions. It helps in the production of collagen, which is the supporting structure of your skin. It is the collagen and elastin fibers that break down through sun exposure and the natural aging process, creating lines and wrinkles on our faces as well as flaccid or sagging skin. This antioxidant also helps with bruising as well as the healing of wounds and burns.

Vitamin C is water-soluble and not manufactured by the body. Therefore, we have to get this antioxidant through our food and/or supplementation. Vitamin C is found in numerous foods you are probably already eating. Because most of this vitamin leaves through the urine, you might consider taking it in supplement form as well.

Taking anywhere from 500 to 1000 milligrams daily is thought to be sufficient to help protect the brain. Even in large doses, vitamin C doesn’t seem to be toxic. Of course, too much of anything is not a good thing. You will know if you’ve taken too much vitamin C because you’ll get loose bowels or possibly diarrhea. Some people even use high-dosing of vitamin C in order to clean out their colon. If you experience diarrhea, whether you are inducing this type of evacuation or because you are sick, you must also increase your water intake to compensate for the loss of water through these eliminations.

Vitamin E, sometimes known by the name tocopherol, is an important vitamin if you are interested in your brain having maximum help to ward off free radical invasion. This antioxidant works on the fatty parts of the cells that comprise the brain. Research is increasing to see if vitamin E can help fend off such debilitating brain diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

You want to take natural vitamin E. How do you know if it’s natural? It will always have a “d” in front of the chemical name, such as d-alpha tocopherol. Tocotrienols are another form of vitamin E, and can be found alone or in the mixed tocopherol supplements. The mixed vitamin E supplements might contain d-alpha as well as d-beta, d-delta, and d-gamma tocopherols. The mixed forms of vitamin E are said to be the best for brain protection. In most of the literature I’ve read, it says taking 400 IUs (international units) of vitamin E is sufficient; taking more, especially over 800 IUs, can get you into trouble. Most notably, it has blood thinning abilities at these higher doses. I would stick with the lower 400 IUs per day, unless instructed otherwise by your health care practitioner.

The antioxidants you just read about are the most powerful, but certainly not the only ones available. Other antioxidants include:
  • bilberry, an herb
  • cysteine, an amino acid
  • ginkgo biloba, an herb
  • glutathione, a protein
  • green tea 
  • melatonin, a hormone
  • selenium, an enzyme
  • superoxide dismutase, an enzyme
  • vitamin A as well as beta carotene 
  • zinc, a mineral
However you get antioxidants into your body (through food or supplementation), do be sure you are getting these all-important free radical fighters in your daily diet.

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