We are all familiar with the word-  “ANTIOXIDANT”,  why wouldn’t we? It’s all around us. Health articles, T.V. commercials, healthcare provides, all are talking about them today. Even one T.V. commercial has a little kid,around 5 year old, talking about antioxidants, but, do we really know what it is and how do we  benefit from ANTIOXIDANTS?

We all are living in a world where, what you see on T.V. is what you bring home. “It was on T.V. that it’s good for  you and so i just got it. I am sure it must be healthy.” is the typical answer I get when i ask about antioxidants to my clients.

Well, lets learn about it today:

Definition: “Antioxidants are the nutrients, vitamin and minerals found in food and also manufactured by our bodies. They are critical for optimal health.” (Packer & Colman, pp1)

Function: They work together to protect us from free radicals. Free Radicals are substances which damage our healthy cells. Free radicals are produced by our body during the process of energy production but other things that can trigger free radical production in the body are certain chemicals (including the perfumes and cosmetics that we use), smoke, traffic pollution, solar radiation, technological radiation, poor diet etc. Antioxidants control the damage process of free radicals and also influence how fast and how well we age. (Packer & Colman,2000.)

The Antioxidant network: Even though there are many antioxidants, these main 5 make it an antioxidant network.Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Glutathione, lipoid acid and Coenzyme Q10 (Co Q10).

Our body does not produce vitamin C and E so they are must to be obtained through food. Glutathione, Lipoic acid and Co Q10 are produced by our body but as we age the level of these antioxidants decline in the body thus making it necessary to supplement all the above.  Lester Packer PH.d, discovered, in his lab, that these network antioxidants have special powers which set them above all the other antioxidants. Packer shares that these guys are particularly effective in slowing down the ageing process and boosting the body’s ability to fight against diseases as these network antioxidants can greatly enhance the power of one another. Lipoic acid is the superhero of them all. it is the most powerful of all and greatly enhances the power of all the other antioxidants (Packer & Colman, pp 9-10).

Vitamin E: It is our body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. This must be obtained from food and supplements. Research shows that vitamin E can protect us from heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and several types of cancers including prostate cancer. Experiments done in Packer’s lab have shown that vitamin E can even extend our lifespan. Research also show that exercise depletes the body of Vitamin E and other antioxidants so they have to be replaced if one wants to see desirable result from their exercise (exactly why my post workout meal plan includes these 🙂 ). Eating a diet rich in vitamin E is important but, it is virtually impossible to get the ideal amount through diet alone. According to Dr. Packer, if you want to get 500I.U. of vitamin E from food alone, you will have to eat more that 100 pounds of broiled liver or 125 tablespoons of peanut oil (Packer & Colman, pp 13). Wouldn’t you rather take the supplement???

Vitamin C: This is a water soluble antioxidant. This guy is not produced by the body so it is a must that we obtain it by eating vitamin C rich foods and through supplements. Vitamin C has shown to be the potent free radical  quencher and it is essential for the health and functioning of our immune system. Studies performed at The University of California show that people who take vitamin C live healthier and longer lives (Packer & Colman, pp 20).

Lipoic Acid: As mentioned above, this guy is a superhero, enhancing the abilities of other antioxidants. Apart from this, lipoic acid has been used in Europe for more than 3 decades in the treatment of complications from diabetes. Dr. Packer’s research shows that lipoid acid may offer significant protection against stroke and heart disease.This is the only antioxidant that can also significantly boost the level of glutathione ( another important antioxidant). According to several studies, Glutathione when taken orally is not absorbed well by the body and most of it goes to waste. Experiments in Packer’s lab has shown that Lipoic acid can boost glutathione levels in the cells by unto 30%. So, when you take lipoid acid supplement, you get an additional dose of glutathione (Packer & Colman, pp 19).

Glutathione: Most abundant antioxidant. It’s found almost in every cell and it is important to fight against free radicals. As we reach our 40’s the production of glutathione declines and can drop unto 20% by the age of 60. (Do take a note of it’s absorption in the above para).

CO Q10: A fat soluble antioxidant. It protects the fatty part of the cell from free radical damage, working synergistically with vitamin E. There are several studies that document that Co Q10 is an effective treatment for heart failure, angina and high blood pressure.

There are many more researched conclusions advising us to including these as supplements in our daily routine.

Reference :-

1.  Packer L, Ph.D., Colman. C, (2000). The Antioxidant Miracle,John Wiley & Sons, Inc, NY.


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