Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth nutrition, fitness and adventure courses, and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+..
There’s a theory called the free radical theory of aging that holds that oxidative damage is responsible for everything we associate with getting old-that we are literally “rusting” from the inside out, all due to the work of-you guessed it-free radicals.
Enter antioxidants. The damage to your cells and DNA that free radicals do is known as oxidative damage, or oxidation, and antioxidants are the cavalry that protect you from that damage.
Beyond Vitamins C and E
The best-known antioxidants are vitamins C and E, but there are actually thousands of nutrients in the plant kingdom that are natural, powerful antioxidants.
Many (though not all) antioxidants can be taken in supplement form and seem to work best in combination. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is one example. CoQ10 is not a vitamin, not a mineral, not even a plant chemical, but it is one of the most powerful antioxidants on the planet. It’s synthesized in all our tissues, and is essential for the production of energy. But we get almost none from our diet, and our bodies make less as we grow older. It not only protects membranes against oxidation, it also helps regenerate another antioxidant-vitamin E. The heart especially relies on CoQ10. A good recommended dose for general protection is 30 to 60 milligrams per day, but anyone on a statin medication (which depletes CoQ10), or with heart issues, should take considerably more (at least 100 milligrams per day).
Potent, Important, and Powerful Antioxidants
Alpha-lipoic acid is another terrific antioxidant that not only scavenges free radicals and helps protect cells, but also regenerates both vitamin C and vitamin E. Lester Packer, PhD, professor and senior researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, calls alpha-lipoic acid “probably the most potent naturally occurring antioxidant known to man.” A typical daily dose is 60 to 100 milligrams daily.
Glutathione is arguably the most important antioxidant in the body. It’s very difficult to get from supplements since it’s broken down in the gut before it can get to the tissues. The best way to boost glutathione stores-very important for overall health-is to give the body the building blocks it needs to make glutathione by itself. These building blocks, called precursors, include whey protein powder and NAC (N-acetylcysteine), an excellent antioxidant in its own right and a powerful protector of the liver to boot. The recommended dose is 600 to 1,000 milligrams daily.
In addition to potentially having the ability to slow aging, resveratrol is also a powerful antioxidant. It’s found in red wine and the skin of dark grapes, and is available as a supplement. Be sure to take the trans-resveratrol form-about 250 milligrams daily.
Selenium is an important mineral that almost no one gets enough of, and it has multiple health benefits, one of which is that it’s an antioxidant. I recommend at least 100 (preferably 200)micrograms a day in supplement form, as it is not found in great amounts in food (the best dietary source by far is Brazil nuts).
Finally, I’m a big fan of olive leaf complex. It is loaded with antioxidant polyphenols, which also support the immune system in a number of ways.
Foods that have consistently been found to pack the greatest antioxidant punch include prunes, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, kale, beans, cranberries, and pomegranate juice.
New Chapter Zyflamend
Fight inflammation, pain, and joint problems while also boosting your immune system and promoting healthy aging with New Chapter Zyflamend. This popular formula features antioxidant-rich herbs, including ginger, rosemary, turmeric, and green tea. Try the “PM” version at night to help improve your sleep.
Barlean’s Olive Leaf Complex
A medicine cabinet essential, Barlean’s Olive Leaf Complex contains the freshest olives in Australia, known for their high content of antioxidant polyphenols. Use as an overall health tonic and also for acute conditions, such as colds, flu, and fungal infections. Keep refrigerated after opening.
ReserveAge Organics Ultimate Antioxidant
Looking for a high-quality, comprehensive antioxidant formula? Try ReserveAge Organics Ultimate Antioxidant. This vegetarian-friendly formula boasts organic trans-resveratrol and grape seed extracts, in addition to pomegranate, cocoa, green tea, and quercetin.