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The antioxidant advantage

Help your body combat naturally occurring free radicals with a boost from the antioxidant department. To find out more about enhancing our antioxidant intake, we spoke with Asia Real, certified nutritionist at our Pacific Palisades store.

Free radicals are a natural occurrence, a byproduct left when our cells metabolize nutrients and oxygen. When we're young, our body does a great job of producing antioxidants that can combat those free radicals. "Our bodies constantly produce antioxidants," says Asia. "But as we get older, the scales tip in favor of the free radicals."

As our antioxidant levels diminish, increasing "oxidative stress" can wear down our cells and kick-start everything from heart disease to wrinkles. Toxins in our environment and food sources can also exacerbate oxidative stress, creating more free radicals that our body has to contend with.

That's why it's a good idea to incorporate antioxidant-rich foods-think superfoods like berries, spinach and green tea-into your diet and give your body a boost with some well-formulated supplements.

"Resveratrol is pretty much the big buzzword in antioxidants right now," says Asia, That's because it has been shown to preserve the length of the "telomere," a region at the end of a chromosome that gradually shortens as our cells divide and multiply; telomeres shorten and disappear completely at the end of our lives, leading to death. "Resveratrol seems to preserve the length of the telomeres," says Asia, and subsequently prolong life. Her favorite resveratrol? "I recommend Pure Encapsulations Resveratrol Extra.

But resveratrol performs just one of many antioxidant functions. "Antioxidants work differently for different parts of the body," says Asia. Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and lutein, are good for eye health; CoQ10 supports heart health. Lycopene, an antioxidant that comes from tomatoes, is commonly found in prostate-support formulas.

"As we age, the antioxidant focus turns to vein health," says Asia. "When we get older, veins can either get more flaccid or more rigid, and antioxidants such as grapeseed oil and pycnogenol contain a compound that specifically support arterial health."

But if you're looking to promote general health, "Blends are the way to go," says Asia. "Then you're covering a bigger spectrum of your body's needs." She notes that many multis already contain antioxidants in the form of vitamins A, C and E, but the body can always use extra protection with a good formula. Asia likes Jarrow's Antioxidant Optimizer, for its grapeseed, lutein and lycopene content, or Gaia's Antioxidant Supreme that contains berry and green tea extracts.

To learn about how an antioxidant supplement may help support your health, speak with a licensed Pharmaca practitioner.

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