Integrative Health Blog

Antioxidants, Our Built-in Firefighters

Posted by admin on Tue, Jun 11, 2013

Why do we need antioxidants?

One of the 4 pillars of nutritional supplementation, antioxidants prevent our bodies from “burning up” (anti- against, oxidation – burning); oxidation from free radicals also causes aging, loss of cellular energy and function, premature cell death, degeneration, cancer, and more. Consider these biological truths about anti-oxidants:

  • Antioxidants come from our food (and supplements) but more importantly our body’s antioxidant enzyme systems (all requiring nutritional building blocks).
  • Cellular systems of detox and antioxidants always work together, are under genetic control and are inhibited whenever chronic inflammation is dominant. So if you have a chronic inflammatory health condition you also have an oxidation and toxic problem! Note that all chronic health conditions involve chronic inflammation.
  • Our toxic world has greatly increased our need for all types of antioxidants to heal or remain healthy.

Antioxidants are key to:antioxidants

  • Anti-aging
  • Overcoming illnesses
  • Regaining health from any chronic or acute health issue
  • Restoring health of the neuro-immune system compromised through heavy metal and chemical toxicity, overgrowth of bowel toxins and chronic infections
  • All detoxification strategies should include anti-oxidants

How antioxidants are best delivered to the body:

  • By foods and supplements derived from whole foods that nature intended us to consume:
  1. Colored fruits and vegetables - organic, whole and not picked early
  2. Super-foods:  Goji berries, Acai, Noni, Green and black tea, Mangosteen, Grape seed extract,  Moringa, Muscadine grapes, Pomegranate, Muca root, blueberry, cocoa (dark chocolate), super green powders (full of greens and seeds)
  3. Whole food supplements: Olive leaf extract, Wild Blueberry, Clear Way co-factors, Ecklonia Cava, Phyto-power
  4. Vitamins: Vitamin C, Vitamin E Complex

How often should you consume antioxidants :

  • Antioxidant supplements should be taken daily in addition to eating antioxidant rich foods 
  • Antioxidants work in teams and come in multiple forms – all are important.  Vitamins C, E and carotenes are common vitamin antioxidants that work together but in different bodily compartments (water and fat soluble). In nature, Vitamin C, E and carotenes never appear alone but in complexes (multiple compounds that work synergistically).
  • Vitamin C appears with bioflavanoids, poly phenols and other larger molecules that replenish the electrons for the small Ascorbate (Vitamin C) molecule – maintaining its activity as an antioxidant.
  • Vitamin E never occurs as only alpha tocopherols but with mixed tocopherols and trienes; the same with beta carotene
  • Minerals Selenium, Manganese and Zinc are also considered antioxidants because they are critical for the all important antioxidant enzyme systems.
  • Antioxidant enzymes; Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), Glutathione Reductase and Peroxidase are some of the critical antioxidant enzyme systems that if not present in adequate or better yet, optimal amounts will lead to serious oxidation issues.
  • The amino acid Cysteine and Glycine is also considered an important component to cellular anti-oxidation because it is the critical ingredient in the most important internal antioxidant in our body – glutathione.

More on “Oxidation”:

  • Oxidation is normal and our bodies are meant to burn – but controlled burning. When anything is burned, energy is released and the (oxidized) substance is changed or destroyed.  We burn food in our mitochondria to make life sustaining energy (ATP).  Our immune systems burn holes in bacteria or cancer cells to destroy or oxidize the unwanted guest or growths.  But the key to healthy controlled internal burning is antioxidants, our built in fire-fighters.
  • At the molecular level, oxidation is removing an electron from a molecule, which makes the oxidized molecule unstable and sets up a chain reaction of stealing electrons from the neighboring molecules.  This is a free-radical chain reaction that can irreversibly change (damage or destroy) our fragile biomolecules (enzymes and receptor sites), DNA, cells, tissues or structures causing aging, cancer or at least lack of function.
  • Sometimes the person has genetic issues that reduce their anti-oxidant and detoxification system's capacity.  These adults or children must employ “ortho-molecular” strategies to overcome their genetic weaknesses.  Functional and genetic testing can now tell your antioxidant levels and genetic issues you may possess.  Talk to your NIHA practioner about functional medicine testing.

Products and supplements available for purchase at NIHA’s World Wellness Store or online at

* Some products may be restricted to NIHA patients only.

Topics: antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, immune system, supplements, world wellness store