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How to Choose Your Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Health Supplements

You may have noticed that there are several supplements available today with “powerful antioxidant effects” and “natural anti-inflammatory actions”. The question is – how do you know which one to choose? Are they all the same? Should you use one rather than another? If you’ve ever wondered about these questions, then this article should help you to better make up your mind about which supplement to choose.

But – why do people use antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplements in the first place? If you’re already aware of the benefits of natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplements, we recommend you skip to the section on choosing the best one.

anti-inflammatory and antioxidant food sources

 

Inflammation and Stress

Inflammation is your body’s response to stress, infections, wounds, and toxins.[1] Inflammation can be thought of literally as your immune response in action. Without inflammation, you would certainly have died a long time ago. Most of the time, inflammation is extremely helpful and necessary for protecting your body from infections and healing wounds.

However, many people today suffer from what is called ‘chronic inflammation’.[2] This type of inflammation is often not caused by a single infection or by a wound, but by prolonged stress.[3] Stress causes the release of a compound called ‘C-reactive protein’ into your body, triggering the ‘flight-or-fight’ response.

Emotional stress is not the only cause of chronic inflammation, but it may be the most common. Other causes include using drugs, smoking, drinking alcohol, and consuming a diet that is high in saturated fat, processed foods, and sugar.[4]

Chronic inflammation can also be caused by a number of underlying health issues. Inflammation of the joints is extremely painful and can be the result of a disease called rheumatoid arthritis.

The negative effects of chronic inflammation are very serious:

  • Chronic inflammation has been linked to a number of types of cancer including lung, cervix and stomach cancers.[5]
  • Chronic inflammation interferes with your sleep. People who suffer from chronic inflammation are often unable to sleep properly, but researchers are still unsure about whether this is a cause-and-effect relationship.[6]
  • Chronic inflammation can affect your respiratory system. It’s linked to asthma, lung infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.[7]
  • Chronic inflammation is often found in people who are overweight. However, having inflammation and high levels of C-reactive protein make losing weight more difficult.[8]
  • Chronic inflammation may interfere with bone growth and bone density and may even be linked to osteoporosis.[9]
  • Your skin is affected by inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to a disease called psoriasis, as well as increased cell aging.[10]
  • Lastly, chronic inflammation is linked to (and may actually be a cause of) depression.[11]

chronic inflammation effects

Why do people use Antioxidants?

“Free radicals” are molecules that are electronically charged and are highly reactive with other compounds in your body. These reactive molecules can damage key parts of your body, including your cell membranes, DNA, and proteins.[12]

Free radicals are produced naturally by many different biochemical pathways, and your body has natural processes to eliminate them – like the immune system and metabolic systems.[13]


A number of lifestyle choices and environmental factors can cause your body to generate excess free radicals. These include:

  • Smoking or second-hand smoke
  • Using prescription medications
  • Excessively drinking alcohol
  • Lack of sufficient exercise
  • A diet that is high in saturated fats, processed foods, and sugars
  • Living in areas with polluted air or water [14]


The damage that is caused by free-radicals is caused ‘oxidative stress’, which has been found to be an underlying cause of inflammation.
[15] [16] Apart from causing inflammation, the damage caused by free radicals also produces its own array of negative health effects:

  • Oxidative stress may contribute to the development of heart disease. ‘Bad’ cholesterol, called LDL, is easily absorbed into the bloodstream, where it is oxidized into its free radical form. Oxidized LDL contributes to atherosclerosis (plaque in the blood vessels) and is toxic.[17]
  • Free radicals are capable of damaging DNA in your cells. Mutations and damaged DNA cause cancerous cells to grow.[18]
  • Scientists have found that the cellular damage caused by free radicals is one of the leading causes of aging. Increasing numbers of studies indicate that the disorders associated with aging, as well as the aging process itself, are linked to damage caused by oxidative stress.[19]

Antioxidants help to destroy the nasty free radicals in a process called ‘free radical scavenging’. This helps to protect your body from the harmful effects of oxidative stress and also helps to prevent additional inflammation.


Luckily, nature has provided many natural food sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds!

Great antioxidant foods Great anti-inflammatory foods
Prunes Tomatoes
Raisins Olive oil
Blueberries Ginger
Blackberries Garlic
Strawberries Leafy greens
Plums Nuts
Kale Fruits [21] [22]
Oranges
Spinach [20]

foods and fruits that work as anti-inflammatories

 

What Are Some Of The Best Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Supplements?

 

1.    Quercetin & Rutin

Benefits and Effects

Quercetin and Rutin are known as bioflavonoids and are two of nature’s most effective anti-inflammatory compounds! They are almost always found together most fruits and vegetables, and in the highest quantities in apples and citrus fruits.[23] [24]

Chemically, the two compounds are almost identical – Rutin simply has an added sugar group, allowing for a slightly longer duration of effects.

Scientists are still evaluating the underlying mechanisms of action for Quercetin and Rutin. Researchers have found that they regulate a number of important factors contributing to inflammation. These include nitric oxide synthase, cyclooxygenase-2, reactive C-protein, and the NF-kappa B pathway.[25]

Quercetin and Rutin help to reduce inflammation by regulating these important genes.

Our recommendation is to use both together to get a better absorption profile, and because since the two compounds are almost always found together in nature, they may interact positively in ways that are not yet understood.

However, if you’d prefer to choose one over the other, we recommend checking out our blog post on Quercetin vs. Rutin.

Below is a list of the top benefits of Quercetin and Rutin.

Benefits Quality
Antioxidant Effects ★★★★★
Anti-inflammatory ★★★★★
Supports a healthy immune system ★★★★
Reduces pain sensations ★★★
Promotes healthy skin ★★★
Natural antihistamine ★★★

 

Side Effects at the Recommended serving size Severity
Headaches
Tingling sensations

 

Rutin and Quercetin food sources

2.    Green Tea Extract

 

Benefits and Effects

 

The extract made from the green tea bush, Camellia sinesis, is one of the strongest natural antioxidant health supplements available today. Green tea has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over a thousand years.

It is one of the most potent natural antioxidants known to man, [26] [27] with additional benefits on metabolism and weight loss.[28] [29]

Green tea extract contains a number of extremely potent antioxidant compounds. These are called catechins and polyphenols. The most powerful catechin is called EGCG, and this has been proven to have potent free radical scavenging effects, [30] while also removing LDL cholesterol.[31]

The potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of Green Tea Extract give it a multitude of health benefits. Researchers are still studying the myriad benefits of green tea extract.

One of the most important benefits is green tea extract’s ability to destroy ‘bad’ cholesterol. This may help to reduce the risk of developing plaque in your arteries.[32]

Green Tea Extract is generally free of side effects, but large servings may put additional stress on your liver.[33]

 

Here are the best benefits of Green Tea Extract:

Benefits Quality
Antioxidant Effects ★★★★★
Anti-inflammatory ★★★★★
Boosts metabolism ★★★★
Destroys LDC cholesterol ★★★
Neuroprotective – protects your brain ★★★
May help with skin health ★★★
May benefit exercise performance ★★
May help to regulate blood sugar levels ★★

 

Side Effects at the Recommended serving size Severity
Pressure on liver ★★
Headaches ★★
Irritability

 

Green tea extract powder

3.    Taurine

Benefits and Effects

 

Taurine is a natural supplement found in many energy drinks and is often combined with Caffeine for a synergistic effect. Taurine is a potent antioxidant that helps to destroy reactive oxygen species (ROS) (also called ‘free-radicals’) and to prevent inflammation.[34] [35]

It is also great for improving your mood and may even be able to enhance cognition (like a Nootropic). Taurine may also improve your blood circulation and metabolism.[36]

Taurine also has the potential to help with weight loss by increasing the speed that your body eats up carbohydrates[37], and the way that it uses sugar[38].

Researchers have found the way that Taurine helps to prevent mitochondria (the ‘power-units’ in your cells) from producing free radicals.[39]

Unlike Green Tea Extract and other standard antioxidants, Taurine is not a classical ‘free-radical scavenger’. Instead, it helps to prevent your body from producing free radicals in the first place.

Taurine is great when taken along with other antioxidant supplements, including Green Tea Extract and Quercetin. These supplements destroy free radicals, while taurine prevents them from being formed.

Another great benefit of Taurine is that it is generally free of side effects at the recommended serving size.[40]

Its long list of benefits includes:

Benefits Quality
Antioxidant Effects ★★★★★
Essential nutrient ★★★★★
Supports a healthy circulatory system ★★★★★
Anti-inflammatory ★★★★
Boosts physical energy and performance ★★★★
Reduces fatigue ★★★★
Reduces stress and promotes a good mood ★★★★
Supports improved cognition ★★★
Boosts metabolism ★★★
Helps with muscle repair ★★★
Supports healthy eyesight ★★★

 

Side Effects at the Recommended serving size Severity
None listed N/A

 

Taurine chemical structure

 

4.    Berberine HCl

Berberine HCl is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound found in a number of herbs and plants, and especially in the barberry fruit tree and other types of berries.[41]

It has been used for centuries in Aryuveda and in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In the past, it was used for anti-microbial, antibiotic, and anti-diarrheal effects.[42]

Berberine has a yellow color and has been used as a natural dye. One of its key functions is to bind to and activate, AMPK enzymes (AMP-activated protein kinase). AMPK has a major role in regulating your metabolism – called the ‘master regulator’ – and helps to regulate cellular energy and to maintain homeostasis (healthy blood sugar levels).[43] [44]

As a result, Berberine is great for supporting a healthy metabolism and may help speed up weight loss,[45] while reducing cholesterol in the blood.[46]

Berberine has regularly been compared to a type of medication called Metformin, in terms of its ability to support healthy blood sugar levels.[47] However, it is important to remember that Berberine’s function is only as a dietary supplement and it is not intended to treat or cure any diseases or ailments.

Berberine's top benefits include:

Benefits Quality
Antioxidant Effects ★★★★★
Anti-inflammatory ★★★★★
Supports a healthy metabolism ★★★★★
Helps regulate blood sugar levels ★★★★
Supports a healthy circulatory system ★★★★
Destroys cholesterol ★★★★
Helps to protect the liver ★★★
Neuroprotective ★★★

 

Side Effects at the Recommended serving size Severity
Upset stomach ★★
Constipation

Berberine berries

5.    Additional Anti-Inflammatory & Antioxidant Supplements

 

  1. Alpha-Lipoic Acid

ALA chemical structureAlpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a compound produced in the mitochondria of cells (the ‘energy hub’) that is important for cellular energy but also has pronounced antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.[48] In Europe, ALA is sometimes used for neuropathic pain, especially for people with diabetes.[49]

ALA is typically found in meat products and many ALA supplements may not be suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Extreme servings have a risk of adverse effects, which can be serious[50], although usual serving sizes are not generally associated with any noticeable side effects.[51]

 

  1. Curcumin

tumeric extract powderCurcumin is the main active compound found in turmeric, which has been used as an anti-inflammatory ingredient in traditional medicine practices for thousands of years.[52] It has great effects on reducing inflammation, pain, and mood, while also helping the body to produce more natural antioxidants.[53]

Curcumin does not have a very good oral absorption profile when taken as a supplement. However, combining Curcumin with Piperine is a great way to improve its absorption and efficacy.[54] It has a very high safety threshold – servings of up to 8 grams have been tested in humans with few noticeable side effects.[52]

 

  1. Omega-3 Oil

Omega 3 oil capsulesOmega-3 oils include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which are all important essential fatty acids for reducing inflammation in your body.[55]

Essential means that your body cannot produce these oils, so they need to be consumed through your diet. An important aspect of cardiovascular health is the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in your blood.[56]

Omega-6 oils are generally food in cooking oil, processed foods, and olive oil (although this contains more Omega-3). Researchers have found that increasing Omega-3 intake helps to regulate the Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio and to prevent inflammation in the body.[57]

 

  1. Ginger Root

Ginger root extractGinger, like turmeric, has been used for thousands of years for its health-promoting benefits. It has a history of being used to help fight flu and colds, to reduce nausea, and to improve digestion.

The most important compound in ginger is called Gingerol, and this is the key component of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.[58] In addition to these effects, ginger extract is great for reducing nausea, preventing muscle soreness, and supporting a healthy circulatory system.[59]

Some people do experience mild side effects, especially when using a concentrated ginger extract. These are usually very mild at the serving size but can include headaches, dizziness, heartburn, and an upset stomach.

 

  1. Magnesium L-Threonate

Magnesium food sourcesMagnesium is another essential nutrient to support a healthy body. Recent studies show that a significant percentage of the world’s population – including people living in developed countries – are deficient in magnesium, at least to some degree.[60] Magnesium is found in most fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and especially in leafy greens.[61]

Magnesium deficiency is linked to several health effects, and especially to inflammation. Having too little magnesium in your body can also interfere with sleep, cause muscle cramps and muscle soreness, affect your ability to concentrate, and affect your blood pressure. [60]

So, magnesium supplements, like Magnesium L-Threonate, are recommended to anybody who is not eating at least 5 – 10 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day, as dieticians now recommend.[62]

 

Take Home Message

We’ve explored the negative health issues of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, and the reasons why people use antioxidants and anti-inflammatory supplements. These types of dietary supplements are recommended for most people to improve vitality and well-being.

But, how to decide how to choose the correct health-promoting antioxidant supplement for you?

Check out the different benefits for Rutin & Quercetin, Green Tea Extract, Berberine HCl, and Taurine, to decide which looks best for you! There’s no single answer about which anti-inflammatory supplement to choose, it depends on what kind of secondary benefits you’re looking for.

We hope this article helped clarify some differences between the top antioxidant supplements! If you have any further questions or comments, please send us a message!

Medical Disclaimer


Not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any disease or ailment. Please read and fully understand potential adverse effects before using this product. These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA and are not written by a medical professional. Please consult your doctor before using any supplements, especially if you have any medical conditions.

 

tristan

Tristan

B.Sc. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Researched & written by Tristan and verified by the Liftmode.com Research Team

 

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods

 

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[2] Nasef, N. A., Mehta, S., & Ferguson, L. R. (2017). Susceptibility to chronic inflammation: an update. Archives of Toxicology, 91(3), 1131–1141.

[3] Liu, Y.-Z., Wang, Y.-X., & Jiang, C.-L. (2017). Inflammation: The Common Pathway of Stress-Related Diseases. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11.

[4] Bosma-den Boer, M. M., van Wetten, M.-L., & Pruimboom, L. (2012). Chronic inflammatory diseases are stimulated by current lifestyle: how diet, stress levels and medication prevent our body from recovering. Nutrition & Metabolism, 9(1), 32.

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[6] Mullington, J. M., Simpson, N. S., Meier-Ewert, H. K., & Haack, M. (2010). Sleep loss and inflammation. Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 24(5), 775–784.

[7] Lee, G., Walser, T. C., & Dubinett, S. M. (2009). Chronic inflammation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer. Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine, 15(4), 303–307.

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[9] Ginaldi, L., Di Benedetto, M. C., & De Martinis, M. (2005). Osteoporosis, inflammation and agingImmunity & ageing : I & A2, 14.

[10] Franceschi, C., & Campisi, J. (2014). Chronic Inflammation (Inflammaging) and Its Potential Contribution to Age-Associated Diseases. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 69(Suppl 1), S4–S9.

[11] Miller, A. H., & Raison, C. L. (2016). The role of inflammation in depression: from evolutionary imperative to modern treatment targetNature reviews. Immunology16(1), 22-34.

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[14] Aseervatham, G. S. B., Sivasudha, T., Jeyadevi, R., & Arul Ananth, D. (2013). Environmental factors and unhealthy lifestyle influence oxidative stress in humans—an overview. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 20(7), 4356–4369. doi:10.1007/s11356-013-1748-

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[32] Vinson, J. A., Teufel, K., & Wu, N. (2004). Green and Black Teas Inhibit Atherosclerosis by Lipid, Antioxidant, and Fibrinolytic Mechanisms. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52(11), 3661–3665.

[33] Dostal, A. M., Samavat, H., Bedell, S., Torkelson, C., Wang, R., Swenson, K., Le, C., Wu, A. H., Ursin, G., Yuan, J. M., … Kurzer, M. S. (2015). The safety of green tea extract supplementation in postmenopausal women at risk for breast cancer: results of the Minnesota Green Tea TrialFood and chemical toxicology: an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association83, 26-35.

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[37] Chen, W., Guo, J.-X., & Chang, P. (2012). The effect of taurine on cholesterol metabolism. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 56(5), 681–690.

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