Many of my patients are confused about antioxidants. Vitamin C, they assume, is the holy grail of vitamins, and that somehow, this all-mighty of supplements will fulfill all of their nutritional needs. But vitamin C supplements, while important in its own right, should not be a one-man show.

Let’s take a deeper look at how your body works.

The process your body uses to convert it into energy creates byproducts called free radicals. These free radicals are reactive molecules. When they encounter a healthy cell, they damage it and also create more free radicals. This process occurs throughout your entire body, both in water-based tissues and in fat-based tissues.

Enter antioxidants, which is what your body uses to clean up free radicals. But to reach everywhere that clean-up is needed, you need some antioxidants that work in a watery environment and others that work in a fatty environment. Plus, different free radicals are neutralized best by specific antioxidants.

In other words, your body needs a wide range of antioxidants to take care of the free radicals.
The following highlights some of the most beneficial antioxidants—including vitamin C—that will help keep your body young, healthy, and functioning optimally.

The infamous Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that benefits you in a number of ways:

- It supports your immune system, helping you dodge and recover from being ill.
- A key nutrient in building collagen, vitamin C helps skin look better and speeds up healing when damaged.
- Vitamin C improves your cholesterol levels, providing some protection against heart disease.
- It also helps your body clean up the free radicals that can cause cancer.
- As you age, vitamin c can lower the risk of developing cataracts.
- It also reduces the symptoms of allergies and asthma.

I recommend at least 500 mg of vitamin C each day… 1000 mg is better. And to get the optimal benefit of Vitamin C, I suggest taking a brand-ingredient called Ester C. This delivery of Vitamin C is better metabolized and absorbed longer in your intestinal tract. You will certainly get more nutritional value with this particular Vitamin C.

Combat Aging With Vitamin E

- If vitamin C is the water-soluble powerhouse, then vitamin E is its fat soluble counterpart.
- Vitamin E stops cholesterol from oxidizing, the process that leads to plaque build-up in the arteries and eventually heart disease.
- It stops free radicals from damaging cellular membranes, helping to protect against many cancers.
- It protects nerve fibers in the brain from damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s.
- It also boosts the immune system and improves the health and appearance of your skin.

Take at least 400 IU of vitamin E each day. Choose a supplement that contains mixed tocopherols and mixed tocotrienols.

Alpha Lipoic Acid and Coenzyme Q10—the Crossover Team

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) are particularly important antioxidants because they work both in a fatty or a watery environment. That means they can provide antioxidant support wherever your body needs it.

Take a look:
- ALA protects the nerves throughout your body from damage… this is especially important if you have diabetes.
- CoQ10 is a critical nutrient for proper muscle function—it’s a powerful nutrient for protection against heart disease.
- ALA helps your body to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, it protects the liver from damage by helping it remove toxins, and it helps extend the life and function of other antioxidants.
- CoQ10 helps your body and mind to stay younger longer, it prevents cancers from forming, and helps cells to function properly making them less susceptible to damage and disease.
For the best results, take 200 mg of ALA each day and least 30 mg of CoQ10.

Carotenoids, Flavonoids, and Polyphenols—the Special Forces Team

Carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols are micronutrients that work as antioxidants in the body. They work as specialized antioxidants helping to fight free radicals where you are most vulnerable. Carotenoids, as you learned in a recent issue, help protect you from vision loss as you age. The flavonoids in fruits and vegetables may offer extra protection against cancer and polyphenols can help fight heart disease and slow aging.

To boost your intake of these specialized antioxidants, eat more fruits and vegetables and eat a wide variety of them.

Antioxidants help your body in innumerable ways… don’t miss out on the benefits.

Stay well,
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.

Author's Bio: 

Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Doctor of Medicine Georgetown University School of Medicine
Emergency Medicine Residency Brook Army Medical Center
Assistant Director of Emergency Medicine Bethesda Memorial Hospital
Diplomat of The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine
Certified Consultant National Strength and Conditioning Association
Director and Founder The Institute for Healthy Aging
Former Nationally Competitive Gymnast and Fitness Expert