Antioxidants play a crucial role in maintaining health by combating the harmful effects of oxidative stress, which is caused by an imbalance between pro-oxidant and antioxidant substances in the body. This imbalance can lead to cell damage and has been linked to a number of diseases, including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and cardiovascular disease. In this article, we show you which antioxidants exist and why they are of interest for ageing research.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances that can reduce oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can damage cell structures. Antioxidants are found both in food and in the body, with some antioxidants being produced by the body itself, while others must be ingested through food.

Where are antioxidants found?

The main sources of antioxidants in the diet are fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. These include vitamins such as vitamin C and E, minerals such as selenium and manganese, and phytochemicals including flavonoids and carotenoids found in plant foods.

And how do antioxidants work?

The effects range from direct neutralization of free radicals to influencing redox signaling pathways and the production of bioactive secondary metabolites. These activities help to maintain the balance between prooxidant and antioxidant forces in the body and play a role in the prevention of cellular stress and damage.

One specific area where antioxidants play a significant role is in the interaction with the process of inflammaging. Inflammaging describes a state of chronic, low-grade inflammation that accompanies aging and is exacerbated by oxidative stress. Antioxidants can help to modulate inflammatory responses and slow down the age-related deterioration of cell function.

GlyNACa combination of glycine and N-acetylcysteine, is an example of an antioxidant that is attracting attention in research. It has been shown to support the antioxidant system in the body and thus potentially counteract the negative effects of oxidative stress and inflammaging.

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The theory of free radicals

The free radical theory postulates that an accumulation of free radical damage is a major cause of the ageing process and the development of age-related diseases. Antioxidants are central to this theory as they have the ability to neutralize free radicals and thus potentially reduce the negative effects of aging and the development of disease.

These findings underline the importance of a balance between pro-oxidant and antioxidant substances for maintaining health and preventing disease. The intake of antioxidants through a varied diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.

Antioxidants and the Hallmarks of Aging

The "Hallmarks of Aging" describe the fundamental mechanisms underlying ageing. In our detailed series, we have analyzed all the Hallmarks of Aging for you and deciphered the molecular mechanisms behind them. These mechanisms include genomic instability, telomere attrition, changes in intercellular communication and reduced proteostasis. Antioxidants can interact with these mechanisms by reducing oxidative stress, which plays a key role in accelerating these ageing processes. By neutralizing free radicals, antioxidants can reduce DNA damage, support telomere stability and generally improve cell function, which can contribute to slowing down the aging process.

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Antioxidants and Ca-AKG

Calcium alpha-ketoglutarate (Ca-AKG) is a molecule that plays a role in the Krebs cycle and acts as an antioxidant. Studies have shown that Ca-AKG can extend lifespan and delay the aging process by reducing inflammation, promoting autophagy and improving metabolic status. Ca-AKG can reduce the accumulation of harmful molecules in the body, promoting a healthier cellular environment.

Secondary plant substances as antioxidants: apigenin, sulforaphane and quercetin

Secondary plant substances provide a rich source of antioxidants and have a variety of positive effects on health.

  • Apigenin is a flavonoid found in many plants and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help neutralize free radicals and has the potential to reduce the risk of cancer, improve neuronal health and support heart health.
  • Sulforaphane is derived from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and is known for its ability to increase cellular antioxidant capacity. Sulforaphane activates the Nrf2 signaling pathway, which promotes the expression of antioxidant and detoxification enzymes. This may provide protection against various chronic diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • Quercetin is another flavonoid found in many types of fruit and vegetables. It acts as a powerful antioxidant and can reduce inflammation in the body. Quercetin has been shown to improve health, increase performance and protect against a variety of diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.

These phytochemicals work synergistically to strengthen the body's antioxidant defenses, reduce oxidative stress and promote overall health. Their multiple mechanisms of action support the role of antioxidants in the prevention and management of ageing and chronic diseases.

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What is the most powerful antioxidant?

When researching the topic of antioxidants, one comes across a variety of substances that are known in science to protect cells from the harmful effects of oxidizing agents. Among these antioxidants, there are some that are considered particularly powerful due to their exceptional ability to neutralize free radicals and thus reduce oxidative damage. But which substance can claim the title of "most powerful antioxidant"?

Astaxanthina carotenoid found in certain types of algae as well as seafood such as salmon and krill, is often highlighted in the scientific literature. It is known for its potent antioxidant capacity, allowing it to neutralize singlet oxygen and other reactive oxygen species more effectively than many other antioxidants. Astaxanthin exceeds the antioxidant effects of vitamin E and beta-carotene many times over and has been shown in various studies to have positive effects on skin health, cardiovascular function and athletic performance.

Another notable antioxidant is hydroxytyrosol, which is found primarily in olives and olive oil, but also in the amla fruit. It has an exceptionally high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score, reflecting its ability to neutralize a wide range of free radicals. Hydroxytyrosol is of particular interest due to its potential neuroprotective and heart-protective properties.

Both antioxidants, astaxanthin and hydroxytyrosol, offer exciting prospects for research and could represent important building blocks for future therapies and supplements aimed at reducing oxidative damage and promoting health.

Conclusion: The importance of antioxidants for health

Antioxidants play a crucial role in the prevention and management of numerous diseases by reducing oxidative stress in the body, thereby minimizing cell damage that can lead to chronic disease and premature aging. They support the body's own defense mechanisms, protect DNA, proteins and lipids from free radicals and thus contribute to the maintenance of health and longevity.

Current research confirms that a balanced diet rich in antioxidants has positive effects on health. Research shows that certain antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and phytochemicals such as flavonoids and polyphenols can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases. Antioxidants such as GlyNAC and Ca-AKG are gaining increasing attention for their potential anti-aging properties and their ability to slow down the aging process.

However, studies also indicate that the effects of antioxidants are complex and depend on many factors, including the specific type of antioxidant, its dosage and individual health status. Excessive amounts of some antioxidants can have pro-oxidant effects in certain circumstances and therefore be potentially harmful.

Research on antioxidants and their effect on human health is constantly evolving. While numerous studies highlight the health-promoting effects of antioxidants, more research is needed to fully understand their role in disease prevention and treatment and to provide specific recommendations on optimal intake and dosage.

In summary, antioxidants are an essential part of a healthy diet and can provide significant health benefits.


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