Antioxidants can be found in a variety of foods and man-made supplements, and they work to fight off free radicals that can cause cellular damage. You can find antioxidants in fruits and vegetables as well as dark chocolate, or you may take them as a dietary supplement. Some examples of antioxidants include lutein, beta-carotene, lycopene, selenium, and vitamins A, C, and E.
While you can take a variety of supplements that contain antioxidants, you'll also find them in a wide range of healthy fruits and vegetables. Eating more fruits and vegetables is a great way to lower your risk of heart disease and other health problems. If you choose to take an antioxidant supplement, be aware that it could interact with some medications. Always consult your doctor before you take any supplement or if you are pregnant or nursing. There have been some concerns that people who supplement with high doses of beta-carotene may have an increased risk of developing lung cancer, particularly in smokers.
When you exercise or whenever your body converts food into energy, free radicals can naturally form. These highly unstable molecules can cause cellular damage known as oxidative stress. You can also be exposed to free radicals by inhaling cigarette smoke, air pollution, and even by being exposed to high amounts of sunlight. When you consume antioxidants, they can help to counteract that oxidative stress and help to combat conditions like lung cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even eye-related problems like cataracts and macular degeneration.
Taking antioxidants in supplement form can be helpful for some people, but it is recommended that you try to consume them naturally through a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also find beauty products that contain antioxidants such as skin care creams, facial oils, and cleansers.
Consuming antioxidants in high doses can be harmful to some people. Some studies have shown that high doses of beta-carotene can cause an increased risk of lung cancer, and high doses of vitamin E may cause an increased risk of prostate cancer or hemorrhagic stroke. The antioxidant supplement you take may also interfere with some types of medications. Vitamin E supplements might increase the risk of bleeding in patients who are already taking blood thinners. Always talk to your physician before you decide to take supplements containing antioxidants, particularly if you are being treated for cancer or high blood pressure.