What is an Antioxidant?
Here’s a story to explain…that I hope you’ll always remember!
Picture this - a little old lady is walking down a dark alley at night in New York City. Near by, an attacker is waiting behind a dumpster. As she passes by, the attacker steps out to pounce, but is swiftly intercepted by a policeman! In true heroic spirit, the police officer sacrifices himself and neutralizes the attacker in one fell swoop. The little old lady carries on with her walk, unharmed and unaware of all this activity.
Now, imagine this - you’re the lady, the attacker is an oxidant, and the policeman is an antioxidant.
In our everyday lives we’re exposed to a constant supply of these ‘attackers’ (oxidants). Whether it’s stress in general, smog and pollution, someone’s perfume or nail polish, or even when someone walks into your office just as you’re about to leave- these all contribute to our internal attackers. So, just like the policeman did above, we need antioxidants to protect us all day long!
This is why we want to assure we have a ‘full tank’ of antioxidants at the start of each day. So, when oxidants inevitably present themselves, we have adequate resources to neutralize them. On the contrary, when faced with loads of oxidants but start our day with only a half tank, we become empty or end up flat out negative, leaving us exhausted, rusting, desperately trying to rebuild, and aging FAST.
To make sure we’re running on full, prevention
is the best approach. Start every day with a full
supply of antioxidants and replenish throughout
the day, since we use them up all day long.
Why wait? By including antioxidant-rich foods and
supplements in your diet you’ll be providing yourself
with that extra line of defense. Your body will be
protected and ready for anything and most important
to many… we will prevent excess aging!
Antioxidant Rich Foods
There are so many foods that have high antioxidant content. Blueberries, for example, are among the highest antioxidant rich of fruits and vegetables. Some currently popular superfoods are also loaded with these powerful antioxidants. For example Goji Berries and Acai. Of course greens pack a potent antioxidant punch - like spinach, broccoli, bok choy and Brussel sprouts. The power of these greens lies in their naturally high vitamin C content, which itself is an antioxidant.
Antioxidant Rich Supplements
If we can get these powerful antioxidants in our diet, why would we need to take supplements? I’m glad you asked! The simple answer is that some days you just can’t eat as many superfoods as others - maybe you’re extra stressed, or you have to stay late at work, or enjoying a night on the town - those are usually the days you need antioxidants the most!
Luckily, there are other ways you can fill your antioxidant tank. As long as we’re taking in these nutrients, we’re preventing ourselves from reaching that depleted, rusting state. On those days where you just can’t eat your superfoods, an antioxidant supplement can take on some of that burden. Furthermore, there are so many different types of antioxidant nutrients and each of them with their own unique properties and actions. Some protect the skin, others the liver, while others the brain. The reason we always need a variety of foods is we have a variety of body functions and we want to preserve all of them. And, we always want to keep our antioxidant tank full! Prevention is always easier and less costly than dealing with a health issue, so let’s keep the body from rusting!
And then there’s reality and life. Let’s be honest here…even the healthiest eaters have stressful days where they simply do not eat enough veggies or fruit. Right? (right – I’m admitting this to you!). And even if we do eat vegetables often, many of them have environmental toxins or pollution on them, furthering our need for more nutrition and higher doses of antioxidants.
That’s why we have supplements. More is better. Some days or in some situations, the supplements simply are the nutrition for the day. Think of it this way, when the unexpected happens, you’ll have lots of policemen to jump to your rescue!
We all know that running a car on empty burns out the engine, leaving the car damaged – the same is true for our body!
Does this make a little more sense to you now? Are you ready to fill your antioxidant tank?
Let me introduce you to your antioxidant line of defense! First up, we have dynamic duo CoQ10 and PQQ, followed by Glutathione, N-Acetylcysteine, and Vitamin C, Zeaxanthin, Lutein and Astaxanthin, and finally, Green Tea Extract. I know that’s quite the list, so read on to find out what they can do!
CoQ10 and PQQ
This hard-hitting pair work synergistically in the body to support energy production while also acting as anti-oxidants.
Produced naturally in the body, CoQ10 supports most cellular functions through energy production. But if it’s produced naturally, why should you consider supplementing it? Well, for starters, CoQ10 levels naturally decrease with age and when there is increased oxidant status. So, when we’re under a lot of stress - mentally, physically, and/or emotionally, CoQ10 is working its magic behind the scenes. Because CoQ10 can be found throughout the entire body, its levels are also indicated in many health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s and migraines.
What sets PQQ apart, is its classification as a nootropic. PQQ has been shown to be supportive of mental focus and memory, and is able to increase blood flow to certain parts of the brain - a promising feature for supporting brain function as we age. Another notable function of PQQ is that it also has anti-inflammatory effects! It is believed that this robust compound is involved in many cellular processes and should not be underestimated!
These multi-purpose antioxidants should be leading contenders to add to your arsenal!
Glutathione, N-Acetylcysteine (aka NAC) and Vitamin C
Like a great relationship, these nutrients support one another!
Glutathione is known as the body’s most powerful antioxidant. What’s unique about glutathione is not necessarily its potent antioxidant powers - it’s that it ALSO directly mediates causes of oxidative stress! This makes glutathione a force to be reckoned with for those pesky oxidants.
Similar to CoQ10, glutathione levels naturally decrease with age and are affected by environmental toxins, stress, and poor diet, so it is of utmost importance to ensure dietary and/or supplemental support of this antioxidant powerhouse.
NAC’s reputation isn’t for being an antioxidant itself, but for its crucial role in building antioxidants. By supplementing NAC, you’re actually supplying one of the basic elements from which glutathione is built! But, NAC also functions as so much more than that! As a matter of fact, it plays an important role in the brain where it helps to regulate glutamate levels – our most abundant neurotransmitter – which supports optimal brain function.
When considering glutathione, we have to mention vitamin C - one of its closest companions. When vitamin C is readily available, it actually has a sparing effect on glutathione, meaning that it will attack oxidants first, leaving more glutathione available for backup! Great teamwork, don’t you think?
Vitamin C also plays a role in the body’s natural lines of defense. The first of which, is the skin. With its antioxidant effects protecting our outermost layer from UV damage, it is also necessary for collagen production - which keeps our skin strong and elastic (and YOUTHFUL). Another invaluable component of defense is immune function, and vitamin C has been shown to support white blood cell production… it protects us from the threat of infection! Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin C is also a great nutrient to add in cases where both stress and inflammation exist together – like in so many people! (especially those with cardiovascular and stress/nervous system issues).
There’s no doubt that thistenacious trio would be a great addition to anyone’s internal police force!
Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Astaxanthin
Have you ever wondered where the bright colours in natural foods come from? Well, sometimes they come from an antioxidant family known as carotenoids.
Famous specifically for protecting our eyes, lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow pigment carotenoids produced by plants. Because our eyes are constantly exposed to both light and oxygen, this increases their vulnerability to damage from oxidation. Lutein and zeaxanthin not only help to neutralize these reactive oxygen species, but also contributeto a yellow-hued ‘shield’ within the eye that protects the cells from light damage. Astaxanthin, a red pigment carotenoid, is also eye protective. Together, allof these can help defend against age-related macular degeneration and cataract formation.
Astaxanthin has extensive antioxidant effects throughout the body too. It acts as a photo-protectant and has been indicated as a contributor to skin elasticity and moisture content. This, along with its ability to mediate inflammation, has resulted in astaxanthin gaining momentum among the dermatology community. Because of its immune-stimulating ability, it may also be useful in cases of immunosuppression. and has been used as support formultiple conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, liver disease, cancer, heart disease, sleep disorders...the list goes on!
Green Tea Extract (ECGC)
There’s something soothing about sipping a warm cup of green tea, isn’t there? It’s comforting to the soul - but also to your cells! Why? Because of a little component with a very long name - epigallocatechin gallate. If that’s too much of a mouthful, you can call it EGCG.
EGCG is one of the main antioxidants in green tea responsible for most of its touted health benefits. So what does ECGC do? Like many other antioxidants, it has multiple purposes and supports wellness throughout the body. However, EGCG is known for also having strong anti-inflammatory properties, which means it has a great potential for mediating chronic diseases including degenerative brain diseases and heart disease (among others) where both stress and inflammation exist.
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking –‘how could I possibly supplement all of these antioxidants – it’s just too many pills!’
Don’t stress about it! (that would increase your need of antioxidants ha ha). As I mentioned earlier, we just want to assure we keep our antioxidant tank full. The key here is that you are continuously replenishing your antioxidant sources so that you won’t be running on empty when life throws you a curveball (or when an oxidant jumps out from behind a dumpster)! When our diet includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, comprising a rainbow of color, we are most likely not depleted. In times of stress, trauma, infection and other health issues, we can still benefit from supplementing with antioxidants above our typical RDA needs. Remember, the RDA is the rock bottom minimum we need, and in today’s world, we always need Optimal levels, not rock bottom. So just mix and match your foods and colors and then perhaps find a rotation with supplements so you have a little extra C one day and a little extra glutathione on a different day, and so on. When you work with a healthcare practitioner, you might find you are in need of a said antioxidant daily. At that time, I would say ‘yes, absolutely’ to take that nutrient daily and rotate some of the others to your level of comfort.
If you’re not sure which ones you need the most, you can use the rotation method. Take a few antioxidants 3 times each week and a few different ones the other days. This way you’re sure to protect your brain, skin, lungs, heart and eyes from all types of rust and pollution, and you’ll have a head-to-toe line of defence!
Remember, quality counts. Would you put termite-infested furniture into your brand new home? Similarly don’t put cheap quality nutrients with toxic tagalongs, starch and paint (yes paint) into the body for which you are taking pristine care. All our products are free from toxic tagalongs and most are reasonably inexpensive. You’ll feel the difference.