Antioxidants – Should you be Taking One?

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We hear a lot about antioxidants these days. We’re told that they’re good for us and there’s a lot of talk on shows like Dr. Oz about the foods that are rich in them but few people really understand what they are.

All living organisms need oxygen in order to metabolize and use the nutrients in food. Oxygen is a highly reactive atom that can become something called a free radical in our body. Free radicals form naturally as a result of breathing, metabolism, and even inflammation. They also occur naturally in the environment around us and are found in pollution and cigarette smoke and we can absorb them. Free radicals are unstable and as they move around in our body, they can cause changes to cells, proteins and DNA. The process is similar to an apple turning brown, oil going rancid, or iron rusting.

Fortunately, our bodies have a supply of antioxidants that counteract the normal effects of oxidation in our tissues. Antioxidants in turn become oxidized as they neutralize free radicals so we need to constantly replenish them. As we age, the damage caused by oxidation accumulates and is believed to be a factor in the development of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and the overall weakening of our immune system.

So, there’s no doubt that we all need a good supply of antioxidants but do you need to take a supplement to make sure that you have enough? The simple answer is probably no. Several nutrients found in commonly eaten foods have excellent antioxidant properties. They include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and minerals like selenium. If you eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans, lentils, garlic, and vegetable oil, you’re probably getting plenty of antioxidants. Taking a supplement and consuming too much of an antioxidant can actually be bad for you.

If you’d like to find out more about antioxidants and how you can ensure that you are getting enough of them in your diet, visit Medicine Shoppe Crowfoot in Calgary.

Written by Randy Howden. Visit me on

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