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Jul 27, 2012

Antioxidant Balance (part 3 of a 3-part blog series)

This is the final post of a 3-part series. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

There are 5 Main Components of the Antioxidant Network:

Vitamin C = from citrus fruits and strawberries are your best food source. Supplements should bring intake up to 100–250 mg/dose and up to 500 mg/day.

Vitamin E = from almonds and other nuts are your best food source, but these are very high calorie, so a daily supplement 30–100 IU/day of natural E (d-alpha tocopherol) may be warranted (preferably containing all 8 isomers of the Vitamin E family).

Flavonoids = from dark purple and blue fruits such as açai, grapes, red wine, grape juice, pomegranate juice, dark chocolate, most berries, and green tea are the best food sources. A diet with 5–10 servings of fruits/veggies contains approximately 100–200 mg/day of flavonoids—and supplements of açai, pine bark, grape seed extract, or green tea extract can be added as a good source of flavonoids.

Carotenoids = from yellow and orange fruits and veggies such as sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and tomato sauce/ ketchup are your best food sources. A diet with 5–10 servings of fruits/veggies will provide about 10–20 mg of carotenoids. Supplements can be added, but avoid high dose and unbalanced supplements of synthetic carotenoids (such as taking beta-carotene alone at high dose).

Thiols = aside from protein foods (which contain cysteine, an antioxidant amino acid), thiols are rare in the food supply; but we know that supplements of alpha-lipoic acid and cysteine help the body to produce more of its own antioxidant enzymes (such as glutathione peroxidase—one of the cell's most potent free radical fighters).

Another way to think about getting lots of "high antioxidant" foods into your diet would be to do so by "color" because red, orange, and yellow foods tend to be high in carotenoids; blue, indigo, and violet foods tend to be high in flavonoids; and green foods can be high in either/both flavonoids and carotenoids—but they are also certainly high in chlorophyll (the green pigment that protects the plant from the oxidizing rays of the sun).

If you use the twin rules of “natural and balanced” when it comes to creating your Antioxidant Network (and forget about the single isolated “super-duper ORAC” measures), you’ll be giving your body a much more effective health benefit to slow free radical damage throughout your entire body.

I hope that this blog series has helped to answer your questions and provide some guidance for you in choosing an antioxidant supplement.

About the Author: Dr. Shawn Talbott holds a MS in Exercise Science (UMass - Amherst) and a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry (Rutgers). He is an avid ultramarathoner whose exercise creates a lot of damaging free radicals. He fights them with an ample intake of açai, pine bark, green tea, and a full rainbow of Antioxidant Network nutrients.

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