There really isn’t a simple or singular answer to the question, “What are the best antioxidants?” Because we are all genetically and biologically unique, our personal need for nutritional supplements—especially antioxidants—can and will vary. Sometimes quite dramatically!
What your body may need now will be different than what it may need in the future. And these needs will definitely be different from those of anyone else. For example, you may need additional antioxidant support for your internal enzymatic system, which requires more nutrients that specifically promote increases in glutathione, SOD, and catalase. Your spouse, on the other hand, might need to focus on increasing the quantity and quality of his or her intake of phytochemicals found in fresh, whole foods.
In addition to physiological variables, lifestyle choices can significantly influence your body’s unique antioxidant needs. Health issues and concerns aren’t always linked to a lack of antioxidants, but to excessive exposure to free radicals. Smoking and/or breathing second-hand cigarette smoke or car exhaust fumes promote free radical damage. Too much sun exposure, eating foods fried in hydrogenated oils, the use of recreational and prescription drugs, radiation from frequent air travel and air pollution all cause free radical damage. Physical injuries, obesity, stress, and prolonged or intense physical activity increase free radical damage, too.
The truth of the matter is that a broad-spectrum, food-based antioxidant supplement can be very beneficial to your overall health and well-being when it is selectively taken in the proper amount. A random assortment of synthetic (or even natural), isolated antioxidants will not be effective in the fight against free radical damage. So you can avoid being misled by marketing (forget about that ad for that newly-discovered South American ‘cure all’ fruit drink) and by propaganda (ignore that ‘scientific’ study that proves the use of a certain vitamin will cause cancer or shorten your lifespan).
Below is a simple, five-step process for determining what the best antioxidants are—for YOU....
Step One: Put out the fire.
While it isn’t possible to protect ourselves from all of the environmental toxins we’re exposed to, we can reduce their damaging effects by making choices that will lessen our overall free radical load. Just as it is difficult to put out a fire that is being fed by a prevailing wind, it becomes even more difficult for an antioxidant to do its job when the body is constantly being exposed to free radical input. Opt out of x-ray scanners at the airport, eliminate hydrogenated oils, processed foods, and refined sugars from your diet. Make changes in the things you CAN control.
Step Two: Forget the hype.
A magical antioxidant formula doesn’t exist. Our bodies have evolved over thousands of years to utilize the myriad phytonutrients present in plants and vegetables that naturally protect us from free radical harm. While certain foods and herbs are especially rich in certain antioxidants, your body ultimately needs to be nourished with a wide variety of organic, colorful, antioxidant-rich foods. As a bonus, these foods will also fuel your body’s innate ability to produce its own antioxidants.
Step Three: Supplement your diet with FOOD-BASED antioxidants.
Eating an adequate amount and variety of antioxidant-rich foods on a regular and ongoing basis is difficult—if not impossible. Winning the ongoing fight against free radicals will require the right antioxidant supplement; one that is made from real, whole-food concentrates.
Avoid the use of isolated, synthetic antioxidants (such as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene) as they can cause imbalances in your antioxidant system and potentially promote the onset of a variety of health-related problems. In addition, a singular antioxidant simply won’t be effective in neutralizing the harmful effects of free radical exposure.
Step Four: Realize that antioxidants are not a miracle cure.
As a general rule, you are not likely to notice any immediate benefits from increasing your intake of antioxidants; you shouldn’t really expect to experience any dramatic changes in your mood, energy, alertness, or memory. Antioxidants are a lot like health insurance. You pay a monthly fee without seeing any short-term benefits—until a few years later when a large hospital bill needs to be paid. Antioxidants serve to protect every cell in your body from the gradual and progressive damage that occurs as we age. It is also important to remember that antioxidants are a part of a comprehensive supplement program that should also include the right type and amount of micronutrients, vitamin D3, and omega 3 fatty acids.
Step Five: Assess your progress.
Thanks to recent advancements in at-home testing technology, it’s easy to measure and monitor your personal antioxidant status. Assessing your antioxidant level will allow you to determine the biological health (age) of your cells—information you can use to make a variety of important, health-related decisions. Because antioxidant protection is a life-long process, it makes sense that you would want to make sure that your chosen lifestyle, dietary and supplement programs are actually working!
We offer a variety of assessments from simple antioxidant screens to more comprehensive metabolic evaluations which will not only let you know if what you are doing is working but how to make modifications.
Want to support your body with key antioxidants? Then check out the Core 4 Nutrition program. You will receive ALL the essential nutrients your body needs to succeed—a potent food-based antioxidant and multivitamin (both made exclusively from raw, organic fruit and vegetable concentrates); a pure-form omega 3 fatty acid formula, and a highly-effective, food-sourced vitamin D3.