While all vitamins are important for health, certain vitamins act as antioxidants and are essential for protecting the body from the damages of body pollution. Antioxidants are compounds found in foods and supplements that neutralize free radicals. You’ll recall from my previous posts that free radicals, when produced in excess cause damage to your cells and contribute to premature aging and disease. In order to defend against these damaging molecules, your body has a very complicated antioxidant defense system that uses antioxidants from the diet to clear out free radicals and prevent damage.
Antioxidants do this in three ways: they reduce the energy of the free radical, stop it from forming in the first place or interrupt the chain reaction which minimizes the damage. While the jury is still out on whether antioxidants can prevent or treat specific diseases, their importance in maintaining good health is indisputable. Researchers believe that even the healthiest diet may not provide sufficient amounts of antioxidants, especially considering the assault we’re under on a daily basis from body pollution. Each time antioxidants are used to neutralize free radicals, the body’s supply diminishes – it is very important to keep it replenished.
So good nutrition and optimal health also means getting enough antioxidants from your diet. While most antioxidants are concentrated in brightly coloured berries, fruits and vegetables, you’ll find that many different compounds can act as antioxidants including vitamins, herbs and minerals, to mention a few.
Vitamins C, E and beta carotene (pro-vitamin A) act as antioxidants and provide essential protection from free radicals.
Since these vitamins are so important, let’s look at them up close to see exactly how they help maintain our health.