One of the most important achievements of science is in introducing us to substances that are beneficial to human health. Antioxidants happen to be one of those substances. A considerable amount of study has shown the various benefits of antioxidants concerning our health and wellbeing.
Antioxidants are contained in many kinds of products ranging from dietary food sources to skincare products. However, in this article, we will be shedding more light on antioxidants, the various sources, their importance, and CBD as an antioxidant.
What are the Functions of Antioxidants?
The word antioxidant means “against-oxidants” which is the major function of this substance. Antioxidants are chemical substances that help protect the body cells against a metabolic process known as oxidation.
The oxidation reaction is a common and necessary chemical process that takes place in the body. It involves free radicals, which are oxygen molecules, having an uneven number of electrons reacting with other molecules which can form large chain chemical reactions in the body.
Not all oxidation reactions are bad for you, yet some less desirable oxidation can produce free radicals that can damage cell molecules such as fatty tissues, protein, and DNA which may lead to heart disease, cancer, and other forms of diseases if not checked.
Generally, electrons travel in pairs. Therefore, the role of antioxidants is to donate an electron to the free radicals without destabilizing itself. This ensures that the free radical is stabilized and less reactive.
What is the minimum requirement of antioxidants in the body?
Mankind has enjoyed the many benefits of antioxidants even before we knew to study their importance, this is because antioxidants are present in many types of food. If not in large quantities, they exist in trace amounts. This begs the question, what is the appropriate level of antioxidant the body requires?
Antioxidant content can be measured using the ORAC i.e. oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. The estimated ORAC of men who eat about 2500 calories per day is at least 11,000 ORAC units while women who eat about 1800 calories per day are advised to take at least 8,000 units.
The calculation of each ORAC unit can be quite burdensome hence it is advisable to take food substances that have high antioxidants regularly in your diet. Studies have shown that Herbs and Spices contain high antioxidants compared to leafy vegetables and fruits.
However, too great an intake of antioxidants, like anything else, can be quite harmful to the health. A high concentration of antioxidants may increase oxidation, protect cancerous cells or reach toxic levels in the body. This isn’t an issue for very many people who are not getting enough antioxidants in their diet, however, it is important to know which foods are rich in antioxidants to ensure a healthy daily dosage.
What Are the Sources of Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are usually found in fruits and vegetables but essentially in this article, antioxidant sources will be classified into;
These sources of antioxidants are nutrients that can be found in food which includes:
- Vitamin A- liver, milk, eggs, most dark leafy vegetables
- Vitamin C- citrus fruits (such as orange, lemon, and grape), broccoli, strawberries, and potatoes
- Vitamin E- Vegetable oils, avocado, nuts, and seeds
- Zinc- eggs, seafood, peas, oysters, and lentils
- Selenium- Brazil nuts, fish, pork, beef, and chicken
- Copper- liver, oysters, and dark chocolate
- Manganese- whole grains, nuts, legumes, rice, coffee, and tea
Non-nutrient based source
They are usually phytochemicals in plants. Some of the antioxidant non-nutrient food sources include;
- Anthocyanin- berries, grapes, pomegranates, kidney beans, and red onions.
- Beta carotene- carrots, mangoes, apricots, herbs, and spices (peppers), sweet potatoes, squash, and kale.
- Lycopene- tomatoes, grapefruit, and watermelon
- Cryptoxanthins- red capsicum, mangoes, and pumpkin.
Why Are Antioxidants Important?
The body itself produces antioxidants in quantities needed to inhibit internal oxidations but for external oxidations such as pollution, smoke, and even some junk food, the body requires additional antioxidants.
Free radicals are a widely known as a cause of “aging.” This is not only in the case of the skin but also for body organs. The uneven electron in the free radicals can trigger a series of reactions leaving the body with deteriorating molecules which can cause all sorts of diseases.
Bearing this in mind, antioxidants are essential in countering all these effects and maintaining a stable metabolic process in the body.
Is CBD an Antioxidant?
Cannabidiol (CBD) has succeeded where most treatment drugs have not. In fact, it is rumored to be the next big thing in pharmacology. This is as a result of various research breakthroughs in the use of CBD in treating diabetes, migraines, and inflammations.
In 1998, The National Institute of Mental Health and The National Cancer Institute made a discovery of the antioxidant properties of CBD. Two years later, after a follow-up study, the Institutes discovered that CBD and other Cannabinoids have higher concentrations of antioxidants than Vitamin A and E, in protecting toxic neurons.
This early discovery made the US Government file a patent on Cannabinoids three years later. This patent was titled “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants”. CBD as an antioxidant works through the “Entourage effect” whereby compounds work together in synergy to efficiently benefit the body.
It should not come as a surprise that CBD is an antioxidant since herbs and phytochemicals have been clearly established in the many sources of antioxidants as one of its major sources. However, it is quite unique that CBD not only serves as an antioxidant itself but helps to improve the effects of other antioxidants, they are combined with.
The importance of antioxidants cannot be overemphasized. Daily intake of antioxidant-rich foods helps to maintain good health. While doing this, it’s important to bear in mind that smoking, junk food, and pollution are means by which oxidation is introduced into the body. Therefore as much as possible, it is advisable to engage minimally in those acts.
The Cannabinoid is not a cure-all treatment but according to studies has proven to be quite effective in treating inflammations and other ailments caused by oxidation. In this article, we have learned that CBD is a powerful antioxidant, oxidation is not always bad, free radicals can be very harmful and the various sources of antioxidants.