Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Article # 409. List of Antioxidant Vitamins
Free radicals are groups of atoms that cause danger to cells. When the body is unable to fight off free radicals, cells are damaged and premature aging along with various diseases may result. 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, according to Phyllis Balch in her book, "Prescription for Nutritional Healing".
Vitamin A carotenoids are found naturally in fruits and vegetables which are yellow, red, green and orange. This antioxidant family includes alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Working as anti-cancer agents, carotenoids decrease the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration as well as helping to inhibit heart disease, according to Balch. The body converts carotenoid energy into vitamin A, reduces the oxidation of DNA and prevents the oxidation of cholesterol.
Vitamin C works in conjunction with vitamin E to maintain its potency. Due to its water solubility, vitamin C works in bodily fluids as an effective free-radical scavenger. According to the book "Prescription for Nutritional Healing" 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.
Useful for preventing the oxidation of fats, vitamin E prevents the cell's protective coatings from becoming rancid due to the oxidation of free radicals. Vitamin E is fat-soluble. It enhances the immune response, helps prevent cataracts and decreases the risk for coronary artery disease, according to Balch. In order for the body to maintain adequate levels of vitamin E, the antioxidant zinc must also be present.
An essential trace mineral, selenium works with vitamin E to protect cell membranes and tissues. Selenium works by targeting natural hydrogen peroxide in the body and converting it into water. Found naturally in asparagus, garlic and grains, selenium helps guard the heart, liver and lungs against free radical damage.
Though coenzyme Q10 is not technically a vitamin, it is produced naturally in the body and levels often decrease with age. Found in highest concentrations in the heart and liver, coenzyme Q10 plays a crucial role in the generation of proper cellular energy. Working in the mitochondria of the cell, coenzyme Q10 helps to metabolize carbohydrates and fats and has a natural anti-aging effect. Supplementing the diet with coenzyme Q10 may be especially beneficial for heart patients as it is known to increase circulation and stimulate the immune system, according to Balch.
Working as a "recycler" of vitamins C and E, alpha-lipoic acid restores the antioxidant properties of vitamins after they have neutralized free-radicals in the body. Stimulating the absorption of other vitamins, alpha-lipoic acid is especially beneficial for detoxifying the liver of metal pollutants and lowering blood cholesterol levels, according to Balch's "Prescription for Nutritional Healing".