Searching through scientific literature for antioxidants to optimize health.
Antioxidants prevent cell damage from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules created in the natural process of metabolism, and at an accelerated rate during exercise. Free radicals also form due to exposure from environmental sources such as cigarette smoke, air pollution or sunlight.
However, when it comes to antioxidants, they are not just purely beneficial:
The problem is, that you can't just take tons of antioxidants, because some processes requires the presence of the reactive oxidant species in order to function. In other words, human body has evolved to include reactive oxygen species.
For example, growth is triggered by the presence of ROS, such as the ones that form after heavy exercise. ROS signals the need for muscle growth and for additional mitochondria. Antioxidants consumed in large quantity can block this growth.
I have doubts about finding antioxidants that provide only benefits without detriment.
There are many antioxidants, but ones that have been studied for supplementation include Vitamins, CoQ10, Polyphenols, Selenium, and Melatonin.
Vitamin C supplementation can have overall good health effects 1) 2) when supplemented above the Dietary Reference Intake, but it reduces performance gains from exercising:
Selenium dosage is sufficient through a healthy diet. Not enough or too high a dosage both lead to disease. An optimal dosage is still being researched. 5)
At an older age, the body isn't doing it's best to protect itself from damage. It willfully allows the damage to accumulate. Defensive programming is turned off and decay is allowed to overtake us. 6) 7)