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          The value of Antioxidants

          How important are antioxidants?

          Everyone talks about how good antioxidants are in boosting the immune system.  But to the average person it is difficult to understand why they are important.  And what are free radicals?

          When cells in our body burn oxygen, they form oxygen by-products called “free radicals”. These free radicals can damage body cells and tissues that may lead to the premature aging of the cells, thus, lowering our body’s immunity against diseases such as heart disease and even some forms of cancer.

          Where do free radicals come from? First, from our bodies (as we burn oxygen). Also, our daily exposure to harmful factors like air pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke, pesticides, and everyday stress can cause free radicals to form in the body.

          Free radicals cause oxidation (cell damage) that weakens our body’s resistance to infection and other health problems. Antioxidants do the same thing — they act as a protective shield against free radicals.

          Antioxidants are dietary substances naturally found in food. In recent years, antioxidants have earned the reputation as the nutritional equivalent of the “fountain of youth”. Fruits and vegetables have an amazing range of heart-friendly nutrients that go beyond the traditional vitamins, minerals and fiber. Studies have shown that they do help cut the risks against heart disease, some forms of cancer, age-related vision problems, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

          So to increase your intake of Antioxidants you could add:

          Vitamin A works as an antioxidant in the form of carotenoids. Beta-carotene, the best-known carotenoid, gives color to carrots and oranges, red and yellow veggies, green leafy vegetables, and sea vegetables. Carotenoids are good for the eyes, the heart and against certain forms of cancer.
          Vitamin C is the most popular and widely accepted vitamin. Well-known sources for Vitamin C are a wide range of citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits. Also found in yellow and green leafy vegetables like bell peppers and broccoli. As an antioxidant, Vitamin C protects your body against infection, keeps your gums healthy, and helps maintain a strong immune system.
          Vitamin E contains a group of substances called tocopherols. Abundant in natural foods like soy beans, corn, nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are rich in protein, healthy oils and other nutrients, especially Vitamin E. As an antioxidant, Vitamin E helps lower your risk of heart disease.
          Selenium is a trace mineral that our bodies use to produce as part of its own defense system. It works with Vitamin E to protect cell membranes from damage caused by free radicals. Foods like meat, seafood, dairy, wheat germ, nuts (particularly Brazil nuts), oats, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice are good sources of Selenium.

          Recommended:  TLC-Antioxidants (Available on this site or at selected TLC-Retailers)

          *This information provides general information endorsed by our experts at time of publication.  It is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please seek advice from a qualified health care professional.