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Phytonutrients can also be referred to as health boosters. Plants produce these substances to protect themselves from bacteria and viruses. But they help the human body as well. They are highly nutritious, active compounds within plants that promote good health. Phytonutrients are members of the antioxidant family, and are responsible for ridding the body of free radicals, and, as a result, slowing the rusting, or the aging process. That's one of the reasons that a diet of high antioxidant foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, is your first defense against aging.
Some of the more commonly known antioxidants include Vitamins A, C, and E. There are other antioxidants that are available in both food and supplement form. That said, antioxidant supplements play a key role in bridging a gap that is often left by processed foods that lack the antioxidants needed to fight free radicals. The following are my “Top 5” antioxidant supplement picks for fighting oxidative stress:
--Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA): Often called the universal antioxidant because it is both fat and water soluble. This means that it can effectively combat the oxidative effects of aging in all tissues of the body.
--CoQ10 (Ubiquinol): A part of the mitochondrial electron transport system and synthesized in all cells, CoQ10 is essential to the body’s production of energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). However, aging reduces access to CoQ10. Although it can be obtained from the diet (mainly from fatty fish, organ meats, and whole grains) as well as synthesized in small amounts, both of these routes decline with age. The body’s declining capacity to extract and assimilate CoQ10 in later years plays a role in the development of various disease conditions. Ubiquinol is the reduced form of CoQ10 and the most highly absorbed. It is directly used in human metabolism as a lipid-soluble antioxidant. While standard CoQ10 (ubiquinone) supplements can be converted into ubiquinol in the body, this conversion can be less efficient in some individuals, based on age, genetics, blood sugar status, or level of oxidative stress.
--Fish Oil: The mainstream media has been reporting on the benefits of fish oil for years. Studies have shown that the omega-3s found in fish oil helps prevent and fight heart disease, cancer, depression, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, ulcers, diabetes, hyperactivity, and other diseases. While omega-3s can be found in flaxseed, walnuts and a few other foods, the most beneficial form of omega-3, containing two fatty acids – EPA and DHA – which are essential in preventing and fighting both physical and mental illness, can be found only in fish.
--N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC): Aprecursor of glutathione, a significant antioxidant and a key detoxifying agent in the liver. Research suggests that NAC levels may drop with age, which could lead to oxidative stress within brain cells, a conspicuous suspect in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
--Resveratrol: A substance most often associated with red wine, it is a potent antioxidant that fights free radicals. Multiple studies have shown a diverse range of activities that may make resveratrol one of the most useful antioxidants ever discovered for a wide range of human health problems.
These supplements work via numerous mechanisms to provide natural, broad-spectrum antioxidant support for optimal health and longevity. Because it is so much easier to protect the health of various body systems than it is to restore their function once damage has occurred, it makes sense to begin a preventive program as soon as possible. When it comes to protecting and preserving your health, the old cliché, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” couldn’t be more profound.