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Are you getting enough antioxidants?

Your body needs antioxidants to protect against free radicals and to stay healthy. But what exactly are antioxidants, and how do you know you’re getting enough of them?

As your body uses the oxygen it needs it creates harmful chemicals called free radicals, which are chemicals can then attack your body’s cells. And because they’ve been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, the effects of unchecked free radicals can be disastrous.

Fortunately, your body’s defence system is quite adept at fighting free radical attacks and producing antioxidants that protect your cells and prevent damage. However, prolonged exposure to the sun, alcohol and stress can accelerate free radical production – and our bodies can struggle to produce enough antioxidants to protect us properly. This means we need to increase our antioxidant intake to avoid serious health issues.

Where can I find antioxidants?

There are three major antioxidant vitamins – beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E – and these can be found in a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables. So getting enough antioxidants is really a matter of good nutrition.

· Brightly coloured vegetables and fruits like carrots, spinach and tomatoes contain high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin C, which can neutralise free radicals before they can do any damage. They can also bolster your cell’s defences and enhance your immune system to reduce your risk of disease.

· Berries, including raspberries, strawberries and blueberries whether fresh, dried or frozen, are high in flavonoid antioxidants and vitamin C and will improve your cell’s defences and your immune system.

· Nuts are high in vitamin E antioxidants, but walnuts, pecans and chestnuts are the most antioxidant rich. They can decrease the risk of cancer and have potentially antiviral, antibacterial and anti-parasitic effects.

· Dark chocolate. It’s the cocoa content of chocolate that delivers high levels of antioxidants, so choose the darkest, richest chocolate you can find to reap the greatest health benefits.

· Red wine is made of red and purple grapes, which are rich in catechin antioxidants. Not only can a glass of red wine reduce your cholesterol, it can also protect the blood vessels in your heart and prevent blood clots.

Even if you’re eating an antioxidant-rich diet, you may not be taking in as many antioxidants as you think. Cooking your vegetables can reduce their nutritional value, so try lightly steaming them or eating them raw. Don’t peel your fruits or veggies whenever possible – buying organic makes this easier. And avoid chopping or soaking fruits and veggies, which also removes some of their goodness.

What supplements can I take?

To help you get enough antioxidants, why not take a daily multivitamin supplement? Look for a high quality product that contains antioxidant ingredients that augment the protection you get from your diet – after all, that’s why they’re called supplements.

Swisse Men’s and Women’s Ultivite Multivitamins are specially formulated to support balanced nutrition. And with a 5-star customer rating, you know you’ll be getting the very best for your health.

What else can I do to maximise my antioxidant intake?

Free radicals thrive on stress, so try to manage or limit stressful situations. Find ways to calm yourself when you’re under pressure, and make sure you get plenty of sleep. Free radicals also multiply faster when you’re exposed to the sun for long periods, so keep your body covered and stay in the shade when possible. Alcohol and smoking can accelerate free radical production, so cut back or quit to stay healthy.

Antioxidants are essential for good health and longevity, and getting enough of them is about eating a nutritious and varied diet and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Just a few extra handfuls of fruits and vegetables every day – along with improving your overall lifestyle habits – could literally save your life.