One study even found that taking an antioxidant dietary supplement reduced post-exercise fatigue by an average of 17%
Antioxidants protect our cells from free radicals and the damage they leave behind—damage that makes it easier for major diseases to settle in. Consuming more antioxidant-rich foods like berries, leafy greens, and even dark chocolate is often recommended to help bolster the body’s ability to defend against these unstable atoms. Here are a few signs that your patients may benefit from an antioxidant dietary supplement as well.
They get sick regularly or easily
Not only do antioxidants help protect the body against major health conditions such as heart disease and cancer, but they may also offer some protection against the latest flu bug. Research published in Microbes and Infection explains that influenza viruses can induce oxidative stress, which exists when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Increasing antioxidants helps restore this balance, potentially reducing influenza’s ability to take hold.
They lack energy or feel tired most of the time
Fatigue can make it difficult to keep up with everyday obligations at work and home. Driving while excessively tired can result in deadly consequences for both the driver and everyone else on the road. While many factors contribute to increased feelings of fatigue — stress, dehydration, and poor diet, for instance — antioxidants may help reduce this level of tiredness. One study even found that taking an antioxidant dietary supplement reduced post-exercise fatigue by an average of 17%.
They don’t think as clearly or react as quickly as they once did
Cognitive decline can occur with age. In an article published in Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, researchers from the University of Alabama and Birmingham Veterans Medical Center indicate that reasons for this include reduced volume in grey and white brain matter and declining neurotransmitter levels. A three-year study found that older subjects taking a combination antioxidant dietary supplement (this one contained ginkgo biloba, lycopene, and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids) had better cognitive function than those who didn’t take a supplement.
Their joints hurt
Oxidative stress is the hallmark of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which the body erroneously attacks healthy cells, resulting in pain in the body’s joints. A 2017 review in the journal Inflammopharmacology suggests that consuming antioxidants can help protect against the damage caused by free radicals associated with this form of arthritis.
They’re having vision issues
Roughly 12 million Americans over the age of 40 have some type of vision impairment according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with approximately 6.8% of children. A literature review published in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry reports that there is some evidence that antioxidants can improve eye health, especially when it comes to age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy, and more.
Their skin health and/or appearance is declining
One effect of free radicals over time is aging of the skin. This includes developing wrinkles, age spots, and other various forms of skin damage. Research indicates that both topical and oral antioxidant supplements can improve skin health by protecting it from reactive oxygen species (ROSs), which are molecules that promote healthy function but also sometimes provoke cellular damage. Antioxidants can also ease the effects of aging by reducing skin damage caused by spending a lot of time in the sun.
Antioxidant dietary supplement if: they smoke
Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes. While the best way to reduce these risks is to quit, studies have found that taking an antioxidant might also help. One such study involved 40 smokers. Researchers reported that subjects taking a fish oil supplement for three months helped reduce the damage caused by smoking cigarettes. The omega-3 fatty acids in the fish oil were credited with providing this effect, in part, by reducing the release of free radicals.
They work or live in high-pollution environments
Environmental pollutants can cause the body to overproduce ROSs and RNSs (reactive nitrogen species). In addition to constantly being around cigarette smoke, this includes regular exposure to pesticides, radiation, household chemicals, and more. A 2014 review outlines the proactive role many antioxidants provide in defense of these pollutants. For example, tea melanin may protect against the damage caused by some pesticides while the antioxidants in vitamin E and green tea appear to offer a level of protection against pollutants in certain household cleaners.
Asking patients about their health and living or working environments can help healthcare professionals better identify whether antioxidant dietary supplements may help. These are just a few of the signs that may potentially prompt this recommendation.