Vitamins and Minerals with Antioxidant PropertiesPublished:January 3rd, 2012
An antioxidant protects the body cells from the harm caused by free radicals. A free radical is an atomic particle that is missing an electron and causes oxidation, which destroys a normal body cell. You are exposed to free radicals if you come in contact with radiation, nitrous oxide, heavy metals like mercury, saturated fat, alcohol and pollutants. In short, there is a good chance that everyone has some exposure to free radicals on a regular basis. When the body is unable to fight off free radicals, cells are damaged and premature aging along with various diseases may occur. Antioxidants are natural compounds which protect and heal the cells of the body by fighting these free radicals and playing a significant role in the prevention of disease.
Vitamins are organic compounds needed by the body for optimal functions. Different vitamins have different functions. Some may function as cofactors for cell mechanisms. Others may be part of an enzyme or hormone. Vitamins are essential for proper functioning of the body. Some vitamins with antioxidant properties are listed below.
Vitamin A and Carotenoids:
This antioxidant class includes alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids decrease the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration as well as works as an anticancer agent. This group of antioxidants also reduces the risk of heart disease. The body converts carotenoid energy into vitamin A, reduces the oxidation of DNA and prevents the oxidation of cholesterol. Good sources of Vitamin A and carotenoids are milk, eggs, liver, fortified cereals, darkly colored orange or green vegetables (such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and kale), and orange fruits such as cantaloupe, apricots, peaches, papayas, and mangos.
Vitamin C works in conjunction with vitamin E to maintain its effectiveness. Due to its water solubility, vitamin C works in bodily fluids as an efficient free-radical hunter. The cells of the brain and spinal cord can be protected by significant amounts of vitamin C. This powerful antioxidant also guards against atherosclerosis by preventing free radical damage to the artery walls. Good sources of Vitamin C are red berries, kiwi, red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, and juices made from guava, grapefruit, and orange.
Vitamin E prevents the cell’s protective coatings from becoming rancid due to the oxidation of free radicals. Vitamin E is fat-soluble and enhances the immune response, helps prevent cataracts and decreases the risk for coronary artery disease. For adequate functioning of vitamin E, another antioxidant called zinc must be present as well. Good sources of Vitamin E are vegetable oils, nuts, and green leafy vegetables. Avocados, wheat germ, and whole grains are also good sources.
Selenium along with vitamin E protects the cell membrane and tissues. Selenium is an essential trace element. Selenium targets natural hydrogen peroxide in the body and converts it to water. Selenium helps guard the heart, liver and lungs against free radical damage. Good sources of Selenium are asparagus, garlic and grains.