Maximizing Your Antioxidant Absorption for Optimal Health Benefits

Antioxidants are essential for maintaining good health and preventing disease. But did you know that you might not be absorbing those antioxidants, even after you do your best to squeeze, mix and eat carrots as snacks? Certain antioxidants can only be absorbed in the presence of heat, meaning that raw vegetables don't provide a healthy dose of antioxidants. To ensure that you get the most out of your antioxidant intake, there are a few things you should do. For starters, non-heme iron from plants or eggs isn't absorbed as well as iron from meat. Eating it with a source of vitamin C helps remedy the problem and increase absorption.

Vitamin C is found in frozen berries, green tea, and other foods labeled as high in antioxidants. It's also beneficial to eat legumes or whole grains, as they contain phytic acid, an “anti-nutrient” that can inhibit the absorption of minerals such as zinc and magnesium. Much to the chagrin of raw food enthusiasts, many foods seem to be digested better when cooked because they help break down plant cell walls. Cooking actually increases the bioavailability of beta-carotene (which converts to vitamin A and is found in tomatoes and carrots), decreases oxalates (which hinder iron absorption) and facilitates the absorption of proteins from eggs and meat. Boiling it reduces broccoli's vitamin C content by 50 percent, largely because it's soluble in water and filters into the water, but even the microwave can consume about 25 percent of the vitamin C.A group of antioxidants called carotenoids give orange, yellow and red vegetables their color.

Beta carotene is just one of many carotenoids. Other carotenoids include lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. The trick to absorbing these guys is heat and fat. These antioxidants are locked in fruits and vegetables and require heat to release them.

You should also add some fat to these orange, red and yellow fruits and vegetables. Carotenoids are easier for the body to absorb with the presence of fat. This doesn't mean you can go to the nearest donut shop and order a dozen donuts without regretting it. Choose to cook your vegetables with coconut oil (which you can use on a higher heat) or olive oil (which you can use on a lower heat).It's important to get enough of these vitamins and to absorb them to the maximum because deficiencies are linked to a higher risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes.

If you're on a nutritious diet, but your body has a hard time absorbing those nutrients, you won't enjoy all of those health benefits. To better absorb non-heme iron, also known as plant-based iron, you should stimulate it a little by combining it with a source of vitamin C.These critters help you digest and break down food, and it's easy to damage your microbiome if you sleep enough, don't eat enough fiber, or are simply stressed. Research has found that the intake of certain probiotics increases the absorption and utilization of proteins and other nutrients. It interferes with a variety of hormones related to stress, blood sugar and nutrient absorption, all of which are involved in the absorption of nutrients. There are also many things you should avoid to improve absorption: alcohol can kill digestive enzymes and stress can cause you to run out of nutrients such as vitamin C.One possible reason why many studies on antioxidant supplements show no health benefits is because antioxidants tend to work better in combination with other nutrients, plant chemicals, and even other antioxidants.

The right type of digestive enzymes you should take will depend on the type of food and macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, or fats) you want to absorb. However, a supplement containing 500 mg of vitamin C (667% of the recommended daily dose) does not contain the plant chemicals (polyphenols) found naturally in strawberries, such as proanthocyanins and flavonoids, which also have antioxidant activity and can be combined with vitamin C to combat diseases. The result is that your diet, even if it's generally healthy and full of foods such as fruits and vegetables, may not provide you with optimal amounts of some nutrients, so absorbing as much food as possible is key. Some studies have suggested that taking antioxidant supplements during cancer treatment may interfere with treatment effectiveness. However, some studies have raised the possibility that taking antioxidant supplements, whether individual or combined agents, may interfere with health. To maximize your antioxidant absorption for optimal health benefits: combine non-heme iron with a source of vitamin C; eat legumes or whole grains; cook your vegetables; add fat when cooking; take probiotics; get enough sleep; avoid alcohol; take digestive enzymes; combine vitamins with plant chemicals; get enough vitamins; avoid stress.