The most powerful antioxidant ever discovered!
How many times have you heard this claim about every antioxidant? Unfortunately, this type of media-hype (1) works exceptionally well! However, after you read this page you will ultimately discover a healthy eating plan IS your most powerful antioxidant!
What is an antioxidant?
An antioxidant (2) is a compound that prevents or reduces oxidative damage in your body. Every antioxidant, whether it is a mineral, amino acid, vitamin, fat, or a derivative is important and each plays different roles (3) throughout the mind and body.
You are probably familiar with some of the more media-hyped antioxidants such as glutathione, bioflavonoids, flavonoids, resveratrol, carotenoids, polyphenols, vitamins A, C, E, lycopene, selenium, Omega 3’s (4) and on and on. However, not so media-hyped is the fact that every antioxidant, regardless of its form, requires an absolute plethora of other essential, conditionally essential, or nonessential nutrients too actually work!
Every antioxidant is a nutrient in form. Whether it is an essential nutrient or an extremely complex derivative of numerous other nutrients, each antioxidant requires a variety of other nutrients or cofactors to prevent, reduce, or eliminate harmful byproducts of your metabolism and at the same time – nourish your mind and body!
For example, what good is glutathione (5), (6) (or any of the others just listed) if your oxidative stress is the result of a toxic element? Just as a note, glutathione reductase requires the essential mineral copper and vitamin B2. In this instance, you could mega dose glutathione and without sufficient levels of copper (and/or B2), potentially do more harm than good.
Antioxidants – too much is just as harmful as too little!
Thanks to media sources and product marketing, it is common to consume too much of a good thing. Even water, essential to life, can be overconsumed: “The cause of death was given as hyponatraemia as a result of acute water intoxication.” Hyponatremia is an excess of total body water relative to total body sodium.
However, as you see on almost every page, too much of any nutrient can easily upset the “dynamic balance” between all nutrients. This applies to antioxidants (7), (8) as well. Consuming an excessive amount of any nutrient, even though it is a highly touted and evidence-based nutrient (including antioxidants), may easily become harmful (9), (10).
As you know, many of the antioxidants are essential nutrients such as vitamins A, C, E, selenium, zinc, and so on. It is important to realize that any nutrient excess is just as unhealthy as any nutrient deficiency!
Are you familiar with metabolic antioxidants?
Do you realize that a properly functioning metabolism is an important source of antioxidants? Yes, your healthiest foods contribute to the majority of your antioxidant needs; however, your metabolism not only creates oxidative stress, it also creates important antioxidants. It is nature’s way of keeping you alive and healthy – provided you are properly nourished.
For example, uric acid (11), (12) and serum albumin (13), (14) are known to possess tremendous antioxidant abilities. However, if your metabolism is not functioning properly due nutrient excesses/deficiencies and toxins, their beneficial antioxidant properties can easily become harmful pro-oxidants (15), (16).
What are common causes of oxidation?
Oxidation is a normal process of life. In fact, oxygen is the most profound oxidizer on the planet and yet it is absolutely essential to sustain your life!
Oxidation can result from myriad factors that include:
- Toxic elements
- Chemical toxins
- Improper dietary supplementation
Even though this is not a complete list, you can see there are myriad factors contributing toward oxidant stress. As such, you can also see that it is impossible for any singular nutrient or even a small group of “super” nutrients that could address oxidation resulting from all these factors.
Do you realize nutritional minerals are antioxidants?
Essential minerals are powerful antioxidants by themselves and play important roles that increase the effectiveness of vitamin and amino acid antioxidants. Several nutritional minerals fall into the antioxidants category. These include selenium (17), zinc (18), copper (19), (20), and manganese (21). However, any excess or deficiency of these minerals can increase oxidative stress throughout myriad metabolic pathways. This also decreases the ability to detox the body.
On the other hand, even minerals not considered as antioxidants play an indirect role. For example, as seen in stress, each stress response can easily cause a deficiency of magnesium. Magnesium is not a “free radical scavenger” but it is an important mineral required to buffer the stress response.
However, a deficiency of magnesium (22) may enhance excessive hydrogen peroxide production (23) resulting in oxidative damage. As you can see, even though a mineral is not directly “labeled” as an antioxidant, if they become excessive or deficient they can produce an oxidative state. In addition, minerals are also important for antioxidant hormones such as melatonin. Melatonin, produced by the pineal gland, is an antioxidant twice as effective as vitamin E against the peroxyl radical (24).
Superoxide dismutase (SOD), one of the body’s most powerful natural antioxidant enzymes, is widely promoted for its antioxidant properties. SOD’s are a group of metalloenzymes (25) that contain copper, iron, zinc, or manganese. However, an excess of these minerals can also contribute toward unhealthy conditions (26) as well.
Selenium, or more appropriately selenoproteins, includes the glutathione peroxidases involved in the reduction of hydrogen peroxide. However, a deficiency of selenium may lead to the oxidation of metallothionein resulting in an uncontrolled release of toxic elements that contributes to an increase of oxidative stress. Don’t forget, we just mentioned a magnesium deficiency and hydrogen peroxide!
Essential fatty acids (Omega 3’s and 6’s) also require minerals for proper functioning. These include the micro or trace minerals zinc, copper, and iron.
Desaturase enzymes require zinc and a zinc deficiency can render flax oil ineffective to raise a low EPA. In addition, the Delta-6 desaturase enzyme is inhibited by a magnesium deficiency. As seen in stress, magnesium is one of the first minerals affected by stress!
These are only a few examples of the important roles nutritional minerals play in the antioxidant arena. However, as we stated in the beginning, it does reinforce the importance of healthy eating.
Remember, as revealed throughout this site, every nutrient requires several other nutrients to function properly. This includes “mineral” antioxidants.
How can hair analysis help?
As seen, mineral elements play numerous roles and are essential for the production and/or synthesis of numerous antioxidants. Our hair analysis reveals essential nutritional macro elements as well as the essential micro or trace elements. In addition, our hair analysis reveals common toxic elements. As you know, toxic elements interfere with all essential nutrients and their metabolic pathways.
By knowing your nutritional and toxic element levels using laboratory analysis, you help eliminate the guesswork concerning your specific nutritional needs.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, minerals alone do not modulate minerals. It requires the use of vitamins and amino acids as well as other minerals to reduce or increase any mineral’s level. In addition, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids are used to eliminate toxic elements.
The bottom line: Every antioxidant, whether it is a mineral, amino acid, vitamin, fat, or a derivative requires numerous other nutrients too actually work as intended. Whether they are directly or indirectly involved, every essential nutrient plays a vital role for optimal health that also includes the optimal ability to detox the mind and body of any harmful product.
So, don’t be fooled by “the most powerful antioxidant ever discovered!”
Note: As you have noticed, we don’t provide a list of foods high in antioxidants because without a mineral analysis it is not possible to know which foods would be the most beneficial. Remember, your nutrient needs are unique to you!
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