10 Best Antioxidant Supplements in 2021

Antioxidants are often used as a marketing buzzword. Is there any science behind antioxidants and should you take antioxidant supplements?

best antioxidant supplements

What are Antioxidants?

There are hundreds, probably thousands, of different substances that can act as antioxidants. The most familiar ones are vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and other related carotenoids, along with the minerals selenium, manganese. They’re joined by glutathione, coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, flavonoids, phenols, polyphenols, phytoestrogens, molecular hydrogen and many more. Most are naturally occurring, and their presence in food is likely to prevent oxidation or to serve as a natural defense against the local environment. Antioxidants tend to work best in combination with other antioxidants (Source).

Should You Take Antioxidant Supplements?

The oxidative stress caused by free radicals to the body’s cells is thought to be a major contributor to the development of cancer (Source).

Since antioxidants neutralize free radicals, taking antioxidant supplements have been speculated to decrease the risk of developing or dying from cancer (Trusted Source).

Several meta-analyses, however, have shown that taking antioxidant supplements does neither reduce the risk of many types of cancers nor reduce the risk of dying from them once diagnosed, In fact, they may even increase the risk of certain cancers (Trusted SourceTrusted SourceTrusted SourceTrusted Source).

In addition, several meta-analyses have found that beta-carotene supplements, a precursor of vitamin A, increases the risk of bladder cancer, and, in people who smoke, the risk of lung cancer as well (Trusted SourceTrusted SourceTrusted SourceTrusted Source).

Vitamin A is important for fetal growth and development, but at high doses, vitamin A supplements can increase the risk of birth defects (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

Therefore, women who might be or are pregnant should not take high doses of vitamin A supplements (Source).

These supplements are only recommended for pregnant women in areas where vitamin A deficiency is prevalent, such as in Africa and Southeast Asia (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

Beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A, is not shown to lead to birth defects. But since taking the supplement long-term is associated with cancer, pregnant women should consult with their physician before taking beta-carotene supplements (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

As for Vitamin C, all the adverse effects, including digestive distress and kidney stones, appear to occur when people take it in mega doses greater than 2,000 mg (Trusted Source).

Best Antioxidant Supplements in 2020 / 2021

Despite the potential risk, antioxidant supplements are popular and commonly considered healthy. If you feel that your diet does not provide sufficient amounts of antioxidants, supplements can help to fill the gap. In order to help you with your research, let's examine some of the popular antioxidant supplements in 2021.

1. Resveratrol

Resveratrol is the beneficial compound found in red wine, which is produced on grapes as a defense against toxins and is found within the skins of grapes. It is also in berries and peanuts. Resveratrol shares many benefits with bioflavonoids, a group of plant-derived compounds with antioxidant properties.

In addition to being an antioxidant, resveratrol is also an anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, cardioprotective, vasorelaxant, phytoestrogenic and neuroprotective agent (Source).

As with other antioxidant supplements, resveratrol reduces oxidative stress. Taking 10mg of resveratrol daily (in two doses) for four weeks was shown to reduce markers of oxidative stress, as well as improve insulin sensitivity (Source).

2. Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble essential vitamin. This means that it must be taken in through food or supplements on a daily basis because it cannot be stored in the body.

Vitamin C is able to act as both an antioxidant and pro-oxidant, depending on what the body needs. This allows it to serve a variety of functions in the body. Like other antioxidants, it works by targeting free radicals in the body. 

Vitamin C is found in high amounts in fruit and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits like oranges and dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli.

Vitamin C, through its antioxidant potential, has been shown to improve blood flow relative to placebo in healthy people (Source).

Studies have also shown that vitamin C supplementation can reduce the effect of free radicals produced from exercise (Source).

Due to its antioxidant activity, studies have demonstrated that vitamin C can upregulate antioxidant enzymes in the body, reducing oxidative stress and improves insulin sensitivity (Source).

It has also been shown to be effective in preventing bone loss associated with oxidative stress in the elderly (Source).

3. Vitamin E

Vitamin E refers to eight molecules, which are divided into two categories: tocopherols and tocotrienols. Each of these categories is further divided into alpha (α), beta (β), gamma (γ), and delta (δ) vitamers.

Vitamine α-tocopherol is considered to be the main one and is found within most vitamin E supplements.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it is stored in the body.

Vitamin E was the first antioxidant compound to be sold as a dietary supplement, which was followed by vitamin C. It is sometimes used as the reference antioxidant compound when fat-soluble compounds are being researched and can act as a signalling molecule within cells and for phosphate groups.

Vitamin E is found in high amounts in foods such as nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.

Similarly to vitamin C, vitamin E has also been shown to improve blood flow. Vitamin E supplementation as alpha-tocopherol at 1,000 IU for three months was found to increase the vitamin E content of LDL particles and reduce their oxidation susceptibility as well as improve blood flow (Source).

Studies have also shown that supplementation of vitamin E can reduce blood pressure, but only when taken in doses of 160mg or 320mg as 80mg failed to demonstrate a beneficial effect (Source). In addition, only the highest dose in this study (320mg) demonstrated an improvement in the antioxidant capacity of the blood. Effects on blood pressure, therefore, seem to be dose-dependent.

Vitamin E supplementation has also been found to lower oxidative stress but only when the supplement is taken over a longer period of time and a high dose is taken (Source). This study showed that a dose of between 1,600 and 3,200IU daily for 16 weeks was effective in reducing oxidative stress.

4. Alpha-lipoic Acid (ALA)

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a mitochondrial compound heavily involved in energy metabolism. It is synthesized in the body and is found in meat, fruit, and vegetables.

It is a potent antioxidant because it works with mitochondria (known as the powerhouses of the cells) and the body’s natural antioxidant defenses. It also seems to be able to reverse the oxidant damage associated with aging, reduce inflammation and help to prevent a number of diseases.

ALA is water-soluble in the gut and is absorbed by transporters so it does not have to be consumed alongside lipids, unlike some other antioxidants.

Supplementation of alpha-lipoic acid daily for three weeks has been shown to improve endothelial function as a result of decreasing of oxygen-derived free radicals (Source).

5. Molecular Hydrogen (H2)

Yes, we are referring to H2, the smallest molecule on planet Earth. A relatively new comer in the field of regenerative medicine, molecular hydrogen is gaining popularity.

The publication of a landmark study in 2007, reported in a reputable journal (Nature Medicine) by a team in Japan, discovered that inhaled hydrogen gas could act as an antioxidant and protect the brain from free radicals. This sparked the interest in its potential health benefits worldwide and led to many published and on-going clinical research.

Following the landmark publication in Nature Medicine in 2007, many other studies regarding the potential application of hydrogen therapy on various conditions were subsequently published.

Since the Japanese discovery, the effects of hydrogen have been researched in 63 diseases [Source]!

It’s less known that hydrogen was therapeutically used for the first time in humans in the early 90s. It was given to 3 divers to successfully help them overcome the effects of high pressure on the brain in deep-sea diving [SourceSource].

Hydrogen is the smallest existent gas molecule. Because of this unique property, molecular hydrogen could penetrate into virtually every organ and cell in the body (including the brain) where it may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, weight-loss, and anti-allergy activity. Molecular hydrogen seems like the perfect therapeutic the world has been eagerly searching for – with very few known side effects and such wide-ranging action [Source, Source].

Hydrogen water is loaded with hydrogen molecules. It was formulated as the most practical and easy way to get hydrogen into the whole body. But it’s not the only way – hydrogen can also be inhaled, injected, or absorbed through a bath [Source].

The ability of molecular hydrogen (H2) to protect the DNA and the mitochondria from oxidative damage may have beneficial effects on chronic diseases and cancer. But perhaps it could help slow down or reverse the aging process itself. A couple of cellular studies give us some interesting clues [Ref, R].

It was already discovered that hydrogen can prolong the life of stem cells by reducing oxidative stress [Ref].

A hydrogen-rich environment reduced both oxidative stress and aging in cells. Some scientists think
that drinking hydrogen water could increase longevity in humans (Circ J. 2016).

Related: Hydrogen Water As An Antioxidant - A 2020 Research Update

6. Curcumin (Turmeric)

Curcumin — the main active compound in turmeric — has been shown to possess powerful anti-aging properties, which are attributed to its potent antioxidant potential.

Cellular senescence occurs when cells stop dividing. As you age, senescent cells accumulate, which is believed to accelerate aging and disease progression (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

Research demonstrates that curcumin activates certain proteins, including sirtuins and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which helps delay cellular senescence and promotes longevity (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

Plus, curcumin has been shown to combat cellular damage and significantly increase the lifespan of fruit flies, roundworms, and mice. This compound has been shown to postpone age-related disease and alleviate age-related symptoms as well (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

This may be why turmeric intake has been associated with a reduced risk of age-related mental decline in humans (Trusted Source).

You can increase your curcumin intake by using turmeric in recipes or taking curcumin supplements.

7. CoQ10 

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant that your body produces. It plays essential roles in energy production and protects against cellular damage (Trusted Source).

Research suggests that levels of CoQ10 decline as you age, and supplementing with it has been shown to improve certain aspects of health in older individuals.

For example, a study in 443 older adults demonstrated that supplementing with CoQ10 and selenium over 4 years improved their overall quality of life, reduced hospital visits, and slowed the deterioration of physical and mental performance (Trusted Source).

CoQ10 supplements help reduce oxidative stress, a condition characterized by an accumulation of free radicals and other reactive molecules that accelerates the aging process and onset of age-related disease (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

Though CoQ10 shows promise as an anti-aging supplement, more evidence is needed before it can be recommended as a natural way to delay aging.

Be sure to consult a trusted healthcare professional before giving it a try.

8. NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)

Cysteine is a semi-essential amino acid. It’s considered semi-essential because your body can produce it from other amino acids, namely methionine and serine. It becomes essential only when the dietary intake of methionine and serine is low.

Cysteine is found in most high-protein foods, such as chicken, turkey, yogurt, cheese, eggs, sunflower seeds and legumes.

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a supplement form of cysteine.

Consuming adequate cysteine and NAC is important for a variety of health reasons — including replenishing the most powerful antioxidant in your body, glutathione. These amino acids also help with chronic respiratory conditions, fertility and brain health.

NAC is valued primarily for its role in antioxidant production. Along with two other amino acids — glutamine and glycine — NAC is needed to make and replenish glutathione.

Glutathione is one of the body’s most important antioxidants, which helps neutralize free radicals that can damage cells and tissues in your body.

It’s essential for immune health and fighting cellular damage. Some researchers believe it may even contribute to longevity (Trusted Source).

Its antioxidant properties are also important for combatting numerous other ailments caused by oxidative stress, such as heart disease, infertility and some psychiatric conditions (Trusted Source).

In a controlled clinical trial in 262 individuals at high risk of influenza (flu) and flu-like illness, NAC supplementation at a dosage of 600 mg twice daily for six months resulted in a significant decrease in frequency and severity of flu and flu symptoms, such as cough, sore throat, headache, and muscle and joint pain. NAC’s ability to protect against flu symptoms was especially evident during the winter season. Of those who tested positive for influenza virus infection during the study, only 25% in the NAC group developed symptomatic illness compared with 79% in the placebo group (De Flora 1997). 

This same NAC dosage in dialysis patients, over eight weeks, resulted in marked reductions in levels of inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and IL-6 (Purwanto 2012).

NAC is likely safe for adults when provided as a prescription medication. However, high amounts may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation (Trusted Source).

When inhaled, it can cause swelling in the mouth, runny nose, drowsiness and chest tightness.

People with bleeding disorders or taking blood thinning medications should not take NAC, as it may slow blood clotting (Trusted Source).

NAC has an unpleasant smell that makes it hard to consume. If you choose to take it, consult with your doctor first.

9. Crocin (Saffron)

Crocin is a yellow carotenoid pigment in saffron, a popular, pricey spice that’s commonly used in Indian and Spanish cuisine.

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world — with 1 pound (450 grams) costing between 500 and 5,000 U.S. dollars. Saffron contains an impressive variety of plant compounds that act as antioxidants — molecules that protect your cells against free radicals and oxidative stress.

Human and animal studies have shown that crocin offers many health benefits, including anticancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and antidiabetic effects (Trusted Source).

Aside from the properties listed above, crocin has been researched for its potential to act as an anti-aging compound and protect against age-related mental decline (Trusted Source).

Test-tube and rodent studies have demonstrated that crocin helps prevent age-related nerve damage by inhibiting the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are compounds that contribute to the aging process (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

Crocin has also been shown to help prevent aging in human skin cells by reducing inflammation and protecting against UV-light-induced cellular damage (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

Given that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, a more cost-effective way to boost your crocin intake is by taking a concentrated saffron supplement.

10. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is the generic term for a group of fat-soluble compounds highly important for human health.

They’re essential for many processes in your body, including maintaining healthy vision, ensuring the normal function of your immune system and organs and aiding the proper growth and development of babies in the womb.

Vitamin A compounds are found in both animal and plant foods and come in two different major categories: preformed vitamin A (retinoids) and provitamin A (carotenoids).

Preformed vitamin A is known as the active form of the vitamin, which your body can use just as it is. It’s found in animal products including meat, chicken, fish and dairy and includes the compounds retinol, retinal and retinoic acid.

Provitamin A (carotenoids) — alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin — are the inactive form of the vitamin found in plants.

These compounds are converted to the active form in your body. For example, beta-carotene is converted to retinol (an active form of vitamin A) in your small intestine (Trusted Source).

Although the biological effects of retinoids are numerous, among the most important effect is that retinoids may exert some of their actions by virtue of their acting as lipid-soluble antioxidants.

Retinol (a type of retinoids) is a lipid-soluble antioxidant that may help fight the damaging effects of free radicals on your cells (Methods in Enzymology 1990).

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. Though its exact cause is unknown, it’s thought to be the result of cellular damage to the retina, attributable to oxidative stress (Trusted Source).

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that giving people over the age of 50 with some eyesight degeneration an antioxidant supplement (including beta-carotene) reduced their risk of developing advanced macular degeneration by 25% (Trusted Source).

However, a recent Cochrane review found that beta-carotene supplements alone won’t prevent or delay the decline in eyesight caused by AMD (Trusted Source).


Conclusion

Excessive free radicals contribute to chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, cognitive decline, and vision loss. Abundant evidence suggests that eating whole in fruits, vegetables and whole grains—all rich in networks of naturally occurring antioxidants and their helper molecules—provides protection against free radicals.

If you feel that your diet does not provide sufficient amounts of antioxidants, supplements can help to fill the gap. However, it's recommended that you inform your doctor or medical specialist if you are starting any form of supplements. It's also advisable that you are monitored by a qualified medical doctor. Monitoring might include common baseline tests such as liver and kidney function tests, blood cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. This is to ensure that the antioxidant supplements that you are taking are beneficial to you and not causing any harm. It will also provide objective evidence to you and your doctor that you are going in the right direction.


*********************

Online Shopping Guide

Before adding a new supplement to your routine, discuss its use with your healthcare provider, especially if you have an underlying health condition or are taking medication.

While many of the anti-oxidant supplements may be available in your local stores, it may be more convenient or affordable to shop for them online on Amazon (US):

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Dr. Zelenko's Z-Stack Vitamin Cocktail: Review 2021

9 Best Pulse Oximeters in Malaysia 2021 - Price, Ratings and Reviews

Where to Buy N95 Masks and Surgical Masks in Malaysia? 2021 Updated Price and Promotion

15 Best Supplements to Reduce Cytokine Storm, a Severe Complication from COVID-19 (Updated July 2021)

Zinc Gluconate vs Zinc Picolinate: What's the Difference?

Ivermectin vs Hydroxychloroquine vs Zinc for COVID-19: What are the Differences?

Ivermectin vs Hydroxychloroquine vs Quercetin: What are the Differences?

Where to Buy Ivermectin for Humans in Malaysia?

NAC vs NAD vs NR vs Niacin vs NMN: What Are the Differences?

Recommended Vitamin C Brand in Malaysia - 10 Best Vitamin C Supplements (2021) to Fight Against the Flu Virus