How do Antioxidants Benefit You at Different Life Stages?

There are many resources that talk about the benefits of antioxidants, in particular how they help our body to fight against free radicals that are linked to cancer, heart diseases and many chronic illnesses. However, most of us do not have a clear idea on the role that antioxidants play at different stages of our lives.

By the definition of science, the peak of our health is around mid-20s[1]. It is the age where we possess optimal muscle strength and bone mass. We can indulge in good food without worrying too much about gaining weight, or binge on our favorite Netflix programs throughout the night without feeling burnt out.

In reality, our good health is finite. After reaching the peak of our health, our human body starts undergoing numerous negative changes due to aging and external stresses over the years. Integrating a balanced antioxidant-rich diet in our daily lives can delay the onset of different health issues as we age.

 

Into the 30s: Losing the Peak of Health

As soon as we enter our 30s, our metabolism slows down by 10% every decade[2]. This means that our body is prone to storing fat and gaining weight if we do not exercise control on our calorie intake and increase physical activity. Antioxidants in this aspect have been found to improve energy metabolism during exercise by enhancing the cells’ abilities to break down fats and glucose[3].

We also start losing collagen, which gives our skin its firm texture. We may start observing the formation of some wrinkles around our eyes and forehead, the areas where we are more exposed to the sunlight. The top layers of our skin become thinner, hence our hands start to appear more gaunt and venous[4]. Antioxidant vitamins (B3, C, and E) are useful in slowing down skin aging by penetrating the skin to induce collagen production, which helps to maintain skin texture and minimize wrinkles.

 

Keeping up with 40s: Getting Started with Menopause

In our 40s, we begin to lose bone mass[5]. Age-induced height loss of about 1cm every 10 years is expected to occur in most people[6]. Antioxidant vitamins (A, D, and K) prevent premature bone loss by inhibiting the programmed death of bone cells. One of the common ways of obtaining vitamin D is to absorb some natural sunlight, ironically this is the period where age spots, or hyper-pigmented spots, tend to develop on our face and limbs as a result of prolonged sun exposure.

The range of late 40s to early 50s is where many women experience signs of menopause that include thinning hair, dry skin, painful joint and sleep problems[7]. More often that not, the risk of bone fracture increases greatly due to rapid bone loss as a result of the drop in estrogen level (female hormone) after menopause[8].

Problematic joints occur due to inflammation, which is linked to the progression of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. Antioxidant vitamins (Beta-carotene and D) help to reduce inflammation and the risk of viral infections.

 

Beyond the 50s: Receding Hairline, Declining Eyesight

While men typically undergo menopause at a later stage, about half of them experience drastic hair loss after the age of 50[9]. Meanwhile, vision-related problems such as declining eyesight, extreme dry eyes and cataract may arise[10]. Cataract is one of the leading causes of vision loss among adults over the age of 60, and may require surgical intervention to resolve when the condition deteriorates. Antioxidant vitamin A regulates the eyes against damage from the sun while maintaining low light and color vision, preventing age-related macular degeneration. The intake of vitamin C and E are also believed to be useful in preventing cataract.

 

Coping with 60s and Beyond: Accumulating Health Woes

Our body, after the age of 50s, is increasingly susceptible to cognitive disorders such as Alzeimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases as well as chronic illnesses including stroke, coronary heart diseases and cancer. Antioxidant vitamins (E and C) defray mental aging by neutralising the effects of free radicals and supporting the nerve cells to carry out cognitive functions.

While many health conditions are inevitable as a result of old age, the rate at which our body declines is not just an age situation. In most cases, maintaining a balanced diet makes a significant impact on how our body copes with aging. If you are at the peak of your health, never take good health for granted and start adopting good lifestyle habits. If you are currently dealing with signs of aging, all the more you should make the right dietary choices and enhance your health.

 

 

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