What are Antioxidants?
Getting a good range of vitamins in your diet is crucial for a healthy and fit body. But these days we seem to hear more and more about a particular group of vitamins called anti-oxidants. Hailed as being the key to everything from beautiful skin to battling cancer. What’s so great about anti-oxidants, do we need them and how should we get them?
What Are Anti-Oxidants?We all age. Our skin, eyes, joints and even our internal organs all become less efficient as we get older. Wrinkles appear and our complexion loses its youthful glow. It’s just the way of the world. But what causes our bodies to break down in this way? A factor is the existence in our bodies of free radicals. Our bodies naturally produce free radicals, and we tend to produce more of them when we’re subjected to stress, when we eat poorly, or when we’re exposed to pollution or cigarette smoke. In other words, modern living makes them worse.
The free radicals that are floating round our bodies contribute to the damage and ageing of our organs, the visible ageing of our skin and can even trigger disease. But it’s not all bad news. Anti-oxidants destroy free radicals. That’s why, for some people, anti-oxidant vitamins seem to hold the key to extended youth and fitness. Look out for vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. These are the key anti-oxidant vitamins.
How Should I Get My Anti-Oxidants?The best and most effective way to get your ant-oxidant vitamins is to eat plenty of them in your day-to-day diet. In general, that means lots of fruit and vegetables. For vitamin A (or the beta-carotene that your body turns into vitamin A), munch and crunch your way through plenty of carrots. Vitamin C is found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but key sources include strawberries, blueberries, citrus fruits and kiwi fruit. For skin-loving vitamin E look out for nuts, avocado, vegetable oils and seeds.
To get maximum goodness from your food, eat your fruit and veg raw if you can. If you find it difficult at first, just try taking a small amount of raw veg each day and build up. Alternatively, invest in a juicer (plenty of vegetable juices taste more palatable with an apple thrown in for good measure) or just steam your veg lightly. It’s almost impossible to eat too much fresh fruit and veg, so fill your plate and off you go.
If you find it difficult to get your anti-oxidants by eating fresh fruit and veg, you might want to consider taking a supplement. Though most experts agree this is not the best way to get your vitamins, it would seem to be better than none at all. Just make sure you’re not exceeding the recommended daily amount of any one vitamin – and don’t take too much vitamin A if you’re advancing in years. Too much vitamin A can put you at risk of bone fractures.
Many people believe that applying anti-oxidants directly onto the skin, hair and body can have a beautifying, rejuvenating effect. So look out for anti-oxidant vitamins in face cream, body cream, shampoo and conditioner. Though the benefits of this are up for debate, you may well find that the extra boost of anti-oxidant vitamins will leave your hair and skin glowing and looking youthful.