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Antioxidants Listed and Explained — So Which Should You Take?

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article11010 We frequently receive questions about various antioxidants: Do I have to take one if I take another? Is this antioxidant better than the other? But the most common question we get is: How do I know which antioxidants are best for my needs?

It seems that ever since astaxanthin whirled on to the scene, touting an antioxidant strength 6,000 times that of vitamin C, people have been confused about what to take. In fact, many mistakenly believe that if they take astaxanthin, they can stop taking other supplements such as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) or resveratrol. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Different types of antioxidants concentrate in different parts of the body, supporting specific cells and organs. For example, astaxanthin possesses powerful antioxidant properties that are extremely effective at protecting and healing the skin. Astaxanthin is also an incredible anti-inflammatory, lending to its ability to optimize joint and muscle function. CoQ10, on the other hand, is heavily concentrated in the brain and in the heart, warding off free-radical damage, and energizing the cells so that they can perform. (For more on CoQ10 benefits and the frequently asked questions, visit our article CoQ10 Benefits and the Frequently Asked Questions – Answered.

Another example can be found in the popular antioxidants that support vision. Both lutein and zeaxanthin take action in the eyes shielding against free radicals that can cause age-related macular degeneration(AMD), but lutein specifically supports the peripheral retina, whereas zeaxanthin goes to work in the central macula.

Then of course there are several herbs and spices with specific antioxidant properties that have been found to have medicinal applications. Turmeric is a fantastic example. While turmeric itself is not an “antioxidant,” it contains curcumin, which has been found to not only aid in breaking up brain plaque, but also neutralize the free radicals associated with body-wide inflammation. (Curcumin isn’t listed on the chart below, due to the fact that it simply targets and supports nearly every system in the body. More on the many health perks of curcumin can be found in this article.)

Below you’ll find a graphic that can help guide you in selecting your antioxidant regimen. Unfortunately we weren’t able to fit every antioxidant that exists (more than 20,000!), but, personally, I think we covered the most popular ones. If we left off your favorite antioxidant and you have a question about it — or if you just have a question in general — please feel free to reach out to us using the comments section below.

antioxidant activity

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9 responses to “Antioxidants Listed and Explained — So Which Should You Take?”

  1. Carol says:

    Hello,
    and thank your for a very concise graphic on the antioxidant family and why we need all of them. However it made me sigh! It is really hard work these days to go out and find quality food and have the money to pay for it. Because of the diminished quality of the soil you have not much idea of the nutrients that are either just plain not there anymore or are so low in usable amounts as to be almost useless. So then you try and cover as much as possible with say a multi vitamin, more cost, plus the fact you have no idea what the manufactures idea of “quality” is and buying an expensive one does not guarantee a higher quality either. And then you come along with 14 different antioxidants, all of them absolutely necessary and I really do not argue that point. But in a day and age of slumping paychecks and and vanishing resources not to mention young parents trying to raise and feed healthy children if I wanted to go out and buy all of them I would be on my financial uppers, so to speak. Take selenium for example. The sources are very limited. The two that do spring to mind are Brazil nuts and Organic eggs. I have not seen these nuts in my local stores for years it seems, not even at Christmas and while one can get organic eggs quite readily, if you overcook them the selenium – and the vitamin E, are destroyed.

    Once again I do thank you for your information. It is important and necessary but not easy to fulfil and overwhelming some times.

  2. R. Henry says:

    Good to know, but some 14-15 different anti-oxidants had me wondering too, are we to take all these every month to maximize our protection? I have two chronically ill family members with bad incurable disease problem too, and IMO doctors are NOT well versed nor do most of them believe in any supplements at all other than through diet. The fact is , regular MDs are NOT all knowing in what supplements we take, and mostly recommend ONE big all-inclusive Vitamin/mineral pill to cover the bases. This does not represent good sources at all as routine medicine mostly does not cover nor recommend these 14-15 supplements at all. So we are left with no choice, but to educate ourselves and hope all the hundreds of recommendations out there will somehow improve our lives, or those we love knowing no conventional doctors have any good advice on such matters. I would never be able to trust any doctors who too often have no real knowledge about supplements, and regard it as quackery. So we are mostly on our own plus dependent on those alternative medicine doctors who do go outside the box of toxic current medicines promoted by Big Pharma, and it’s a source of immense profit to so-called “organized” medicine advocates to use only their recommendations as instructed by the big pharmaceutical industry, and those who profit by it. The bottom line is, the big majority of organized medicine doctors are not going to be of much help to the sick consumers who seek their care.

  3. Timothy says:

    It would be nice to have multiple antioxidants combined in one tablet. Then, maybe I could get by with taking only say 3 tablets instead of 15

  4. Phyllis says:

    My question is about EFA’s. If one takes Krill, should you still take Omega 3/DHA? Dr. Perlmutter touts DHA but I thought that one should not take DH by itself without it being balanced also with Omega 3.

    • Segen Tekle says:

      Hi Phyllis,
      Our Ocean Pure Krill Oil provides potent levels of the important omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, in a highly absorbable phospholipid form. You can take additional omega 3’s, but it’s not necessary.

      I hope this helps!

  5. Sue says:

    Thank you for providing this antioxidant chart for reference. I think it will come in very handy as I continue to work on ensuring that my body gets all it needs.

    Thanks to your website I have never stopped taking coq10 since it quite honestly gives the body an energy boost over coffee. I have incorporated lutein into my diet in small doses for starters. This post has given me more clarity today on the benefits of astaxanthin which I didn’t know about and which now I feel compelled to add to my daily supplement/vitamin regimen.

    Again, thank you for this all inclusive page of really important antioxidants and other choice supplements for good health.

  6. Kevin says:

    I take a boat load of stuff for a neurodegenerative disorder that has no treatment or cure – its called MSA and is considered a Parkinsons Plus Disease with a short life span of 4-8 years from the first time you pass out with no blood pressure due to Disautonomia – I’m not clear re what is or is not an anti oxidant such as Curcumin / N Acetylcysteine / along with spirulina and egcg is kelp and Selenium & how does black cummin seed oil compare to the fish oils as I understand they both have omega 3 – I take both EPA and DHA and in the final anti oxidant category isn’t apple cider vinegar one of the best things you can do for yourself among all those listed – I also am a bit confused re amino acids and vitamins vs anti oxidants – it would be nice to have a whole list of the various things as I noted you have some vitamins as anti oxidants so should b12 and Vit D due to all adults being deficient in both also be on the list along with methyl folate and a few other things that aren’t popping to the top of my brain right now – thanks for your graphic and insight which will help alot I think – but I would also suggest that some things listed have more benefits than just those listed – oh – where does niacinamide fit in all this? I could go on and list a bunch of stuff I take but am not sure that would help – just wondering about the stuff listed and some things not listed!

  7. Georgia says:

    Thank you for the diagram. It really helps me know where my supplements are working. Small soft-gels are best for me, so I suspect that getting all of the right antioxidants into one pill is impossible.

  8. marta says:

    they say too many antioxidants has an opposite effect and, in fact, oxidises. what would be too many antioxidants?