As with any wellness buzzword, there's a lot of confusion about what are antioxidants and the role of antioxidants in the body. Let's learn more about antioxidants - and debunk some myths while we're at it!
1. Antioxidants can perform radically different functionsDespite popular beliefs, not all antioxidants have been created equal. Different antioxidants combat different free radicals. Antioxidants are also known to "collaborate" to achieve their mission. For instance, did you know that vitamin C "recycles" vitamin E? After a molecule of vitamin E neutralizes a free radical, vitamin C transforms that molecule back to its antioxidant structure, enabling it to continue to fight more free radicals!
2. Antioxidants added to packaged food don’t guarantee a health benefit.
Many food manufacturers see adding synthetic vitamin C or E as a quick way to boost sales, allowing them to inject all the benefits of antioxidant in their promotion. Unfortunately, many of these foods are loaded with sugar and fat, making their antioxidant content a poor consolation prize. Just adding one healthy ingredient doesn't make the food healthy!
3. Natural vegetables and fruits are one of the best ways to get your antioxidantsIt's a common misconception that you should focus only on praised "superfruits" such as pomegranates and berries. While they truly are a nutritional powerhouse, you should aim to include a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in your diet. This way, you're providing your body with access to a combination of various healthful compounds rather than just a selected few.
4. Not only vitamins can be antioxidantsTalking about antioxidants, we usually focus on vitamins C and E, while many of them are actually minerals and other enzymes. Examples include selenium, which is also responsible for thyroid function and superoxide dismutase, prized for its ability to repair cells and reduce the damage done by the most common free radical in the body - superoxide.
5. Yes, you can have "too much of a good thing"!Excess antioxidants can cause immune suppression (low white blood cells) which means that our body loses the protection to fight off bacteria. Single high-dose supplements can do more harm than good!
So, should you supplement your antioxidant intake? If you decide to do so, don't reach for antioxidant-enriched sugary cereal. Instead, turn to safe and organic blends that will deliver an all-round nutritional boost, including a balanced range of natural, safe antioxidants naturally occurring in a variety of whole foods.