There is a lot of hype that surrounds antioxidants. Researchers say they can help fight against memory diseases like dementia, deter certain heart disease and cancers, and are the key to anti-aging. What are these compounds and why are they important?
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are like bodyguard molecules. They protect important molecules like proteins and our DNA from free radicals, a type of molecule that causes oxidation. These important molecules make our bodies function. Oxidation is a process that damages these important molecules in our cells.
There are two ways to introduce antioxidants into our body to get all their benefits: through our diets and via skincare. We will discuss four great benefits of antioxidants, the types of antioxidants you can find in food and skincare products, and the foods in which you can find them.
Benefits of Antioxidants for Your Skin
Antioxidants reduces inflammation
When your skin is inflamed, it doesn’t repair as well or as quickly. Reducing inflammation allows skin to repair itself and correct visible damage.
Antioxidants have anti-aging properties.
Oxidation breaks down collagen and hinders the natural repair process of the skin. This results in fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. Antioxidants help prevent and correct these visible signs and give skin a more youthful glow by attacking the free radicals that cause them. Even better, some antioxidants, like vitamin C, stimulate collagen production which improves the look of skin.
Antioxidants brighten and even out skin tone.
Dark spots and uneven skin tone result from changes in our skin’s melanin caused by sun exposure and free radicals. Antioxidants can help prevent these changes by attacking free radicals.
Antioxidants may help prevent skin cancer.
Some antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, E, and carotenoids have anti-carcinogenic properties and may help prevent skin cancer.
Types of Antioxidants
Vitamin C is probably the most researched antioxidant available. Vitamin C’s benefits include boosting collagen production and evening out dark spots in skin. In skincare products, it’s best to keep it out of the sun, in a closed jar because vitamin C is can lose its potency when exposed to light or air.
RETINOL (VITAMIN A)
Vitamin A, better known in skin care as retinol, is a widely known anti-aging ingredient that fights against environmental damage that results in premature aging. It’s small molecular size helps it penetrate deep into the skin to stimulate collagen production and accelerate cell renewal and repair. This results in smoothing fine lines and improving skin tone.
Often found in moisturizing creams, Vitamin E is an important vitamin that assists in the proper function of many organs in the body. It’s a powerful antioxidant that accelerates the skin’s healing process.
Often referred to as CoQ10, Coenzyme Q10 is a naturally occurring antioxidant in our bodies that help keep skin cells healthy. As we age, though, our supply diminishes, making us more susceptible to wrinkles and photo-aging. Research shows Coenzyme Q10 is easily absorbed topically to help collagen production and improve skin elasticity by fighting off free radical damage and keep your skin cells healthy.
Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is a powerful antioxidant that improves the skin’s texture and tone by stabilizing the skin’s lipid barrier. This allows it to absorb the vitamins and nutrients from our skin care products, and is often combined with other ingredients to boost their performance.
Wine lovers are familiar with resveratrol, a chemical compound found in the skins of grapes, among other plans. It has antimicrobial properties that protect our skin from pollution, infection, and some UV radiation. It has been studied for its potential in fighting cancers and can boost the activity of mitochondria,promoting longer cell life in the body.
Another vitamin that can be found in wine and other foods are polyphenols. This vitamin possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to prevent UV-induced skin photodamage. Studies show that eating foods and using products that include polyphenol help improve skin’s natural defense against oxidative stress and prevent skin aging.
Flavonoids are found in green and black teas and are often used in treatments for rosacea. They reduce inflammation, collagen degradation and oxidation to delay skin aging and absorb UV light to deter skin cancers.
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that brightens and detoxifies skin and lessens the appearance of wrinkles. It aids in cell repair and protection of vital organs like liver, kidney, brain and the skin.
Antioxidants in Foods
Of course, you can get your antioxidants in many of our skincare products, but if you also want to boost your body’s natural antioxidant stores, you can find them in many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, and even cocoa.
Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries are among the top fruit sources of antioxidants. Fruit juices such as pomegranate juice or a glass of red wine are good sources, as are coffee and tea.
Sweet potatoes, carrots, red and green peppers, kale, spinach, and broccoli all contain the antioxidant carotene. Try to choose red, orange, deep yellow and dark green leafy vegetables every day.
Nuts and Seeds
Walnuts and pecans are some of the top nuts for antioxidant content. Not crazy about nuts? Try sunflower seeds.
Many of those in fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are high in antioxidants are also typically high in fiber, low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and good sources of vitamins and minerals, so the benefits just keep coming! And of course, there is always dark chocolate for a sweet antioxidant boost.