There are three main types of antioxidants found in nature. These include phytochemicals, vitamins, and enzymes. Most of the most potent natural antioxidants are found in plants. This is due to the fact that plants are exposed to UV light throughout the day.
Since plants generate a large number of free radicals, they have a natural protection system that prevents free radicals from causing cell damage that would eventually lead to plant death and extinction. This protection comes from their own natural antioxidant agents.
Types of Natural Antioxidants
Antioxidant Enzymes: Enzymes are types of antioxidants that come from the proteins and minerals we eat as part of our daily diet. These enzymes are synthesized in the human body and include superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and catalases. For antioxidant enzymes to provide optimal antioxidant activity, cofactors such as iron, copper, selenium, magnesium, and zinc are required. The quality of the protein source is directly related to the quality of the antioxidant enzymes.
Antioxidant Vitamins: The human body does not naturally produce antioxidant vitamins, so it is essential to include these vitamins in our daily food intake, either through food itself or vitamin supplements. The most common antioxidant vitamins include vitamins A, C, E, folic acid, and beta-carotene. Vitamin A is particularly important for the functionality of the immune system, eye health, tissue repair, and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Vitamin C helps protect the skin from UV rays, promotes better iron absorption, provides greater resistance to infections, and helps regulate blood cholesterol. Vitamin E is important for keeping blood vessels healthy and improving skin conditions. Meanwhile, folic acid is important for reproductive-aged women, particularly for preventing the development of neural tube defects in the fetus. Beta-carotene is a potent carotenoid (a type of phytochemical) that is considered a good protector against molecular oxygen and other free radicals. This vitamin is most commonly found in orange-colored vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes, and in dark green vegetables like spinach and kale. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vitamin-like substance produced by the body, which has been shown to be a necessary component in the basic functioning of cells. The production of this substance naturally decreases with age, and its reduction has been associated with the development of several diseases and conditions related to aging.
Antioxidant Phytochemicals: Phytochemicals are the antioxidants that plants naturally use to protect themselves against free radicals. Studies show that humans who nourish themselves with vegetables rich in these phytochemicals also benefit from their antioxidant properties. Phytochemicals are divided into the following categories: • Carotenoids • Flavonoids • Allyl sulfides • Polyphenols Most natural whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, contain phytochemicals, while processed or refined foods contain little or no phytochemicals. Over the last decade, much has been researched about a potent antioxidant phytochemical extracted from pomegranate seed oil, known as punicic acid. According to the results of some research, it is considered one of the most potent natural antioxidants. Some studies report it as being about seven times more potent than green tea and at least six times more potent than grape seed extract. Punicic acid is Omega 5 and is now available in a novel nanoformulation, its name is GranaGard®.