(NaturalNews) A critical review of the role of dietary antioxidants suggests that Vitamin A and E, along with coenzyme Q10, flavonoids, and resveratrol, show promise in extending human life. The review, which was published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, and authored by Chong-Han (2010), examined current studies on antioxidants and their implications in the aging process with the conclusion that these antioxidants may contribute to longevity.
Antioxidants are substances that reduce oxidative damage in cells caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced when the body breaks down food or by environmental exposure like tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals are responsible for aging, tissue damage, and diseases like heart disease and cancer (Medical Dictionary).
The following antioxidants reviewed by Chong-Han show promise in extending human life:
Vitamin A. Vitamin A, also known as retinol, has been called the "anti-infective" vitamin for its role in supporting the immune system. This vitamin is essential in protecting the retina and lens from damage generated by light and metabolism. Carotenoids, which are pre-formed vitamin A found in plants, are found to be determinants of longevity and cancer. Supplementation of this vitamin showed improvement to lifespan in mice only when started in the beginning of life.
Best sources: Carrots, spinach, sweet potato, kale, turnips, squash, collard greens, bell peppers.
Vitamin E. One of the most widely researched antioxidants, vitamin E is also found to extend life in mice when initiated in early years, just like vitamin A. Vitamin E may protect older healthy individuals against atherogenesis (formation of thick plaque of cholesterol and other lipids in arterial walls), improve relearning ability, and reduce cancer formation.
Coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 (Q10) is the only known bodily-synthesized antioxidant; thus, its toxicity rate may be less when compared with vitamins A and E supplementation. It extends life by reducing oxidative damage, thereby lowering cardiovascular risk and inflammation. It is known to prevent photo-aging on the skin and may offer protection caused by simvastatin therapy. Q10 is the primary homologue (feature) found in longer-living mammalian species, including human beings.
Best sources: Fish, germs of whole grains.
Flavonoids. Flavonoids are the most common group of polyphenolic compounds in the human diet and are found mostly in plants. Green tea supplementation has been found to protect against oxidative stress and can increase antioxidant ability in rat brain. The green tea catechin prevents damage in aging mouse brain and liver damage in rats caused by aging and ethanol. Another flavonoid, anthocyanins, has also shown protection against vascular disease.
Best Sources: Berries, green tea, and virtually all fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices.
Resveratrol. Resveratrol is a polyphenolic compound found in grapes, red wine, purple grape juice, peanuts, and some berries. Evidence from the "French Paradox" and from controlled studies point to its effectiveness in extending life. It has also been associated with improved bone density, motor coordination, cardiovascular function, and in delaying cataracts. Other studies also show that it offers protection against Alzheimer`s disease and prolongs lifespan as well as retards aging.
Best sources: Grapes, wine, peanuts, fermented soy.
Thus, to get the benefits of health and longevity, one`s diet should comprise plant foods and this diet should begin early in life.
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Chong-Han, K. (2010). Dietary lipophilic antioxidants: Implications and significance in the aging process. Critical Reviews in Food and Nutrition, 50, 931-937.
Amy Chaves is a researcher, teacher, counsellor and writer. She has a Ph.D. in Counselling Psychology from the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She is currently writing a book on connectedness and writes blogs in her website, which can be viewed at http://amychaves.blogspot.com/