The Benefits of Antioxidants
What is an Antioxidant?
Antioxidants, by definition, are substances that inhibit oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can lead to the production of free radicals. Free radicals are extremely reactive and unstable molecules that latch on to healthy cells in order to complete themselves. In doing so, free radicals damage, mutate, and destroy healthy cells, proteins, and lipids. Antioxidants are known as the "free radical scavenger", allowing the free radical to complete itself with the antioxidant. This process, in turn, prevents the free radical from otherwise latching on to a healthy cell and damaging it.
Antioxidants are used for two groups of substances: industrial chemicals (additives to prevent oxidation) and natural chemicals (found in food and body tissues).
Why Are They Beneficial?
Antioxidants play a major role in containing and preventing certain medical conditions. Antioxidants do a lot for your body, including preventing cell mutation that may lead to carcinogenic properties and other severe diseases, but they also play a major role in keeping your skin healthy. Since antioxidants provide electrons for those reactive and stubborn free radicals, they can prevent free radicals from damaging your skin cells early on. This means that antioxidants can play a huge role in keeping your skin looking healthy and young. They are essential for limiting the risks of premature aging. Below are some great benefits antioxidants provide towards combating the signs of aging.
Increased Collagen Production
Collagen is an essential part of maintaining your skin elasticity and keeping it wrinkle-free. When free radicals attack the cells in your body, collagen fibers can be damaged, essentially breaking down the collagen proteins into non functioning proteins. As you age, your natural levels of collagen production begin to decrease. Maintaining collagen production and healthy collagen proteins is important for having supple, radiant skin. With antioxidants applied as a topical treatment, or through nutritious meals, you can combat free radicals and ensure your collagen levels are as high and healthy as possible.
Minimizing Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Antioxidants cannot reverse pre-existing lines and wrinkles, but they can certainly help prevent them. Sun exposure is a leading cause of wrinkles and aging. The sun's harmful rays produce free radicals that attack skin cells and accelerate the aging process. Using a sunscreen that contains antioxidants is a good combatant to saving your skin while still enjoying those sunny beach days.
Reduced Age Spots
Age spots are another skin condition caused by over-exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays. No thanks to those UV rays, melanin production is sped up in your body. Melanin is a skin pigment that can become congested with other pigments and result in age or liver spots. These spots are harmless but could obscure the detection of cancer. Antioxidants like vitamin C offer benefits to reduce melanin pigmentation.
Prevent Acne Vulgaris
Antioxidants can be directly applied to your skin through topical treatments. Vitamin A is a common antioxidant that reacts as a retinoid when applied to your skin. Vitamin A digs deep into your skin's pores to unclog and reduce the chances of acne breakouts. Vitamin A has also been known to help reduce overall oil production on your skin's surface. Having less oil can decrease the chance of clogging pores and developing acne.
How to Meet Your Daily Needs
According to science, your body needs around 8-11,000 units of antioxidants per day. If you are not hitting that daily number you may be allowing your cells, tissues, and organs to fall into an oxidative state, allowing free radicals to begin their damaging process. There are several ways to meet your daily needs, but keep in mind that some "obvious" ways may be more harmful than helpful.
The easiest way to meet your antioxidant quota is by choosing the right meals. Fruits and vegetables all contain antioxidants, but some may have a significantly higher amount than others. You should always try to look for foods that are rich in vitamins like A, C, E, and beta-carotene. "Super foods" are known to have a high dosage of antioxidants, among other health benefits. Fruits such as grapes, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are high in antioxidants, provide inflammatory relief, and reduce your chances of other diseases. Other foods such as red or pinto beans, sweet potatoes, tea, and fish are all great sources of vitamins and antioxidants to help prevent free radical damage and other skin conditions.
Eating your way to healthy skin through meeting your antioxidant needs is a great start. There are also topical creams to apply antioxidants directly to your skin. Taking a supplement for antioxidants is an option as well, however, you should be very cautious when doing so. Nutrients work best if they are naturally supplied to your body. Taking high doses of a vitamin through supplements can interfere with how your body reacts and uses other vitamins. Always consult an expert before trying new supplements or routines.