Antioxidants are a group of compounds that help to protect the body from the formation and elimination of free-radicals. Free-radicals are formed from exposure to sunlight and pollution and also as a byproduct of cell metabolism. Alcohol, cigarette smoke, stress and even diet also affect the level of free-radical development in the body.
Antioxidants are intimately involved in the prevention of cellular damage — the common pathway for cancer, aging, and a variety of diseases.
The vitamins that are considered antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene, but many minerals like selenium, lycopine and zeaxanthin are also antioxidants.
- Vitamin E : d-alpha tocopherol. A fat soluble vitamin present in nuts, seeds, vegetable and fish oils, whole grains (esp. wheat germ), fortified cereals, and apricots. Current recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 15 IU per day for men and 12 IU per day for women.
- Vitamin C : Ascorbic acid is a water soluble vitamin present in citrus fruits and juices, green peppers, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, kale, cantaloupe, kiwi, and strawberries. The RDA is 60 mg per day. Intake above 2000 mg may be associated with adverse side effects in some individuals.
- Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A (retinol) and is present in liver, egg yolk, milk, butter, spinach, carrots, squash, broccoli, yams, tomato, cantaloupe, peaches, and grains. Because beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A by the body there is no set requirement. Instead the RDA is expressed as retinol equivalents (RE), to clarify the relationship.
- (NOTE: Vitamin A has no antioxidant properties and can be quite toxic when taken in excess.) Source
Find out which vitamins and minerals are antioxidants, which are beneficial for neutralizing the oxidizing process, with healthy advice from a registered and licensed dietitian in this video on nutrition.