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What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are chemical elements or compounds that the body uses to fight free radicals. Their main function is to prevent free radicals from damaging cells and causing cellular oxidation.
Free radicals are a type of chemically unstable molecules, which damage cells: they act by introducing oxygen into cells, causing oxidation, changes and modifications to DNA and even ageing. This damage caused by free radicals is called oxidative stress.
Antioxidants fight and combat these free radicals, which can be produced naturally in the body, as well as as a consequence of external factors: intense physical exercise, UV rays, pollution, smoking, etc. Antioxidants act by neutralising free radicals, reducing their impact on the body and the damage they can cause.
High levels of free radicals are associated with an increased risk of diseases such as diabetes, cataracts and cardiovascular problems.
Some of the most important antioxidants produced naturally in the body are ubiquinol and glutathione. Supplementing with antioxidants helps to improve the immune system and fight against these free radicals.
It is important to provide the vitamins and other compounds necessary for their production, such as vitamin E and vitamin C, which the body cannot produce on its own and which are necessary for the production of antioxidants, in optimal quantities, either through supplementation or diet. Antioxidants can be obtained naturally, mainly from fruit and vegetables.
What are antioxidants for?
- The main function of antioxidants is to protect the body against free radicals and oxidative stress.
- They help to keep the immune system in optimal condition and strengthen it.
- They can help prevent common illnesses such as colds, colds, etc.
- They are involved in recovery after training, as physical exercise is a factor that triggers the appearance of free radicals.
- More specifically, antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties.
- They promote eye health, prevent skin ageing, help with allergies, prevent cancer and even help regulate cholesterol.
How to obtain antioxidants and which are the most important ones?
Antioxidants can be provided mainly through a healthy, balanced diet, including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Nowadays, lack of time, bad habits and other factors can lead to a lack of antioxidants in the body. Supplementing with antioxidants may be the key to improving the immune system and providing the body with the nutrients it needs in a comprehensive manner.
The most important antioxidants in the body are glutathione and ubiquinol.
Glutathione is considered the universal antioxidant: it is the most effective at dealing with oxidative stress. Two supplements that can help increase glutathione levels are N-acetyl cysteine and R-ALA.
Ubiquinol, or coenzyme Q10, is one of the most widely used antioxidants and can be obtained directly through supplementation. It is capable of integrating into cell membranes, protecting them and promoting energy production.
Vitamin C and vitamin E have important antioxidant functions. They enhance the immune system, fight free radicals, and are present in fruits and vegetables. They protect cell membranes and keep bones and muscles in good condition.
Carotenoids: astanxatin is the best known. It has a similar structure to vitamin E and plays a particularly important role in preventing skin ageing and maintaining good eye health.
They enhance the action of the immune system, have anti-inflammatory properties and bind to substances such as metals, which may be toxic, so that they can be eliminated.
One of the most important polyphenols is quercetin: it helps to prevent tumours and to reduce the effects of joy.
How to take antioxidants?
It is recommended to take antioxidants at times away from training, as they can interfere with training adaptations. It is important to read the labelling of the chosen supplement and follow the instructions. If in doubt, consult a health and nutrition professional.