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Anti-Inflammation, Part 2: Antioxidants

By Dr. Caitlyn Nguyen, family medicine physician


Read Part 1


Our exploration into anti-inflammation wouldn't be complete without talking about antioxidants. Oxidation occurs when we convert the food we eat to energy. This process creates free radicals that ultimately can damage and kill the cells in our body. Since our modern diet is filled with processed foods, we lose the natural antioxidants to combat these free radicals found in animals and plants.


Below are just a few antioxidants to consider adding to help fight inflammation and chronic illnesses.


Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Coenzyme Q10 is a natural antioxidant found in the body and most foods. It is best known for heart health benefits such as by preventing LDL "bad" cholesterol from oxidizing.


The oxidized form of the LDL, in short, causes inflammation that can lead to hardened arteries and increase your risk for heart attacks and strokes. CoQ10 also has a role in migraine treatments, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, improving sperm count and gum health.


When buying this supplement, I would suggest buying the active form of CoQ10, which is called Ubiquinol. There's no one size fits all — the amount depends on what conditions you're trying to target. For general health, a dose between 90 to 120 mg is recommended.


Vitamin E

Spinach, a source of Vitamin E

Similar to CoQ10, vitamin E is also an antioxidant that is essential for structural and functional maintenance of muscles, including the heart.


Vitamin E helps with red blood cell formation and is helpful in cardiovascular diseases, preventing complications from diabetes, Alzheimer's, and may even be beneficial for cancer prevention.


Good sources for vitamin E in food include whole grains, avocados, nuts and spinach. Aim for about 100-200 IU (international units, the designation used on most Vitamin E supplements) a day. Vitamin E can interact with different prescription medications such as cholesterol control, blood thinner and fish oil. Please talk to your doctor before starting a vitamin E supplement.


Omega 3

Fish, a source of Omega 3

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid found mainly in our diet through consumption of cold-water, oily fish (salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, black cod and bluefish). It has anti-inflammatory properties beneficial in various conditions as mentioned before.


Omega 3 is beneficial for heart health and brain development in children. It is recommended that you eat fish 2 to 3 times per week to get enough of the omega 3 in your diet. If you do not eat fish, you can take 2 to 3 grams of fish oil that contains both EPA and DHA.


Because fish can contain Mercury as a contaminant, consuming fish like sardines would be best for pregnant or breastfeeding women as well as for children. Fish oil can thin your blood, and high amounts may increase risk for hemorrhagic strokes, blood in urine and nose bleeds. If you're taking a blood thinner, talk to your doctor before starting fish oil.


Please consult your physician for questions about your specific conditions and whether antioxidants could help with inflammation and chronic illnesses.


If you would like to explore how supplements and antioxidants could benefit your health, request an appointment to establish primary care with Dr. Caitlyn Nguyen.