A collage of different fruits and vegetables that are sources of antioxidants.

Why You Need Antioxidants

Written by: Wan SofaSyifa
Reviewed by: Fenny Lim, BSc. (Hons) Nutrition, UKM

What is an Antioxidant?

An antioxidant is a chemical compound that may prevent or delay cell damage through oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Antioxidants produced by your body are called endogenous antioxidants. Examples of endogenous antioxidants are alpha lipoic acid and glutathione. 

Meanwhile, externally sourced antioxidants are called exogenous antioxidants and are the more rich sources compared to endogenous antioxidants. Exogenous antioxidants can be found in various foods and minerals. Vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids are common examples of antioxidants you can find. These antioxidants can be both man-made and organic [1].

Antioxidants and Health

A collage of a couple making smoothie and another couple jogging with sources of antioxidants; fruits and vegetables.

To fully understand the importance of antioxidants for our health, we must understand what free radicals are and why oxidative stress can harm our bodies.

What are Free Radicals?

Free radicals are a type of molecule that can either donate or accept any electrons and is highly reactive. They are generated in the body when it converts nutrients into energy. It also occurs when you exercise and can be found externally when exposed to cigarette smoke, air pollution, industrial chemicals, x-rays, ozone, or sunlight. 

Free radicals are crucial to your body’s immune system as once it is released, it can destroy bacteria, viruses, and damaged body cells as an oxidative burst. During exercises, free radicals help induce the benefits of the exercise, such as helping your muscle cells be more sensitive to insulin. Due to its pervasive and highly reactive nature, too many free radicals can cause oxidative stress [2], and you need antioxidants to neutralize them.

What is Oxidative Stress?

Oxidative stress happens when there is an imbalance between the amount of free radicals and antioxidants in your body. Although mild oxidative stress can help protect your body from infections and diseases, long-term oxidative stress is very harmful. It can damage the body’s cells, proteins, and DNA. 

One of the widely studied effects of oxidative stress is chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation happens when the inflammation during injuries or infections persists even after the threat is eliminated. This condition is known to be the main cause of complications such as diabetes, several cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, Alzheimer’s, and more. 

Oxidative stress caused by excessive free radicals has also been linked to cancer development – though further studies are needed to verify this. Causes of long-term oxidative stress are similar to free radicals; diet, exposure to pollution, chemicals, radiation, and at times, certain medication [3].

Where do Antioxidants Come In?

As mentioned, an antioxidant is a molecular compound that acts as a neutralizing agent for free radicals and inhibits or controls oxidative stress in the body. Eating the right food and getting the right amount of antioxidants is important to ensure your body can balance the antioxidants and the generated or contracted free radicals.

Antioxidants and Beauty

Due to their capability to delay and prevent cell damage, antioxidants are a prominent component in most beauty products. Carotenoids such as zinc help form new cells, selenium prevents wrinkles, and vitamin E may reduce the risk of skin cancer. Antioxidants, in general, are also good for preventing UV damage – one of the main accelerators of skin aging. Antioxidants’ anti-inflammatory properties may also treat skin inflammation, such as acne [4].

For beauty purposes, antioxidants can be both ingested and applied topically. Skincare packed with antioxidants is the more cost-effective choice of its various ingredients and proven effectiveness. Dietary supplements geared towards beauty with high antioxidants may also provide health benefits.

Benefits of Antioxidants

It is best to separate the various benefits of antioxidants into beauty- and health-based benefits to encapsulate them better.

For beauty, some benefits other than the one mentioned above are;

  • Improves hydration
  • Stimulates collagen and elastin production
  • Supports skin healing
  • Increases skin’s softness and elasticity

For health, ingredients high in antioxidants or from different sources of antioxidants may be able to [5];

  • Prevent diseases by improving the immune system
  • Improve eye health with vitamin E and beta-carotene
  • Reduce the risk of cancer by neutralizing cancer-inducing free radicals
  • Improve cardiovascular health with a combination of different antioxidants

You can benefit most from antioxidants in food and supplements by understanding where the sources are with the right combination.

Antioxidants in Food

One unifying opinion is that food rich in antioxidants gives you the best benefit. The nature of whole foods, especially fruits, and vegetables, is that it contains many nutrients in a single ingredient. Grapes, for example, can have more than one type of antioxidant and give you multiple nutrients within one consumption. Below are some examples of common antioxidants and their food source;

Vitamin C: Mainly found in fruits and vegetables; berries, oranges, and bell peppers

Vitamin A: Dairy, eggs, and liver

Vitamin E: Nuts and seeds such as sunflower, vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables

Lycopene: Pink, red fruits and vegetables; tomatoes, watermelon

Beta-carotene: Bright fruits and vegetables; carrots, peas, spinach, mangoes

Lutein: Green, leafy vegetables, corn, papaya, and oranges

Selenium: Whole grains, nuts, eggs, cheese, ad legumes

Including a diet of whole foods with extra fruits and vegetables is the most recommended way to give your body enough antioxidants.

Antioxidant Supplements

You must find one that gives you multiple antioxidant sources to get the most out of antioxidants-based dietary supplements. Multivitamins, a combination of vitamins and minerals, and other more rounded dietary supplements are the best way to go instead of a single-sourced antioxidant supplement unless the type of antioxidant is hard to consume in large quantities, such as vitamin C. 

In cases like vitamin C, the recommended dosage is 2,000 milligrams a day which is hard to achieve even when you take oranges two to three times a day, and the natural sugars in the fruit can be quite high. Aside from ingredients, the formulation is also one of the things that matter most when it comes to getting the most out of your dietary supplement.

CellLabs® Antioxidant-rich Supplements

To ensure our products give you the full benefits of antioxidants, our team has developed different formulations featuring a variety of antioxidant sources. Our premium CellLabs® CLASSaaNTA contains up to seven ingredients, each containing more than one type of antioxidant, such as avocado oil high in oleic acid, lutein, and fatty acid. CellLabs® CLASSaaNTA is our recommended product for those looking for both beauty and health-based anti-aging solutions

Another antioxidant-rich product we recommend that gives you the best immunity booster is our CellLabs® Oxxynovia® 6000 featuring 22 fruits and vegetables with 6000 ORAC value. If you’re looking for something that promotes skin health specifically, our CellLabs® ASTomato™ contains seven antioxidant-rich ingredients, such as white tomatoes, passion fruit, and grapefruit.

Browse other products to see which one suits you best, and if you like this, subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest insights.

Share this story: