Coenzyme Q-10 (Ubiquinol)
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone)
Antioxidants are powerful compounds that slow down the oxidation process. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can create free radicals. Free radicals can cause damage and inflammation to your cells.
Antioxidants lower inflammation and oxidation in the body which causes cholesterol to oxidize and form plaque. By lowering the oxidative stress in your body you can reduce your odds of developing cardiovascular disease and maintain efficient cellular and mitochondrial health.
Oxidative damage in DNA can also contribute to cancer and neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimers.
Inflammation and oxidation contribute to the formation of plaque and calcification in the cardiovascular system.
It’s well known that those on a Ketogenic Diet will sometimes develop high cholesterol. We have to stop thinking of “high cholesterol” as a dirty word. It’s the inflammation and oxidation that causes cholesterol to oxidize and form plaque.
Glutathione: The master antioxidant
Several antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione protect DNA from oxidative stress.
Glutathione is the king of antioxidants, but it is unclear whether taking exogenous glutathione actually raises the body’s glutathione levels. Glutathione is poorly absorbed by the body according to the study. As you can see it’s also very expensive, so I didn’t include glutathione in my list of the best antioxidants.
I also didn’t include NAC in my review. It’s an immensely powerful antioxidant and should definitely be included as one of the best antioxidants. However, I recently wrote an in-depth review of NAC called:
So if you want to read more about NAC and how it can detoxify your liver I would highly recommend that article.
PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone)
The other powerful antioxidant that I am not going to focus on today is PQQ. I recently wrote an article on Speed Keto. In that article, I discussed PQQ as a way to speed up the process of getting into ketosis and becoming fat adapted. pyrroloquinoline quinone can help regenerate new keto-friendly mitochondria.
The ingestion of vegetable and seed oils are one of the leading causes of oxidation. That is why the type of fats we eat on the Ketogenic Diet is so important.
There are literally hundreds of different antioxidants, but after extensive research, these (arguably) are the most powerful antioxidants to support a Ketogenic Diet.
Astaxanthin (ASX) is another powerful antioxidant. It’s a ketocarotenoid metabolite naturally synthesized by bacteria, microalgae, and yeasts. ASX is the compound that gives krill, lobsters, and salmon their orange-red pigment.
It’s safe to say that Astaxanthin is the best antioxidant for the skin.
This study from the US National Library of Medicine shows astaxanthin is especially good for the skin, reducing wrinkles, age spots and improving moisture and elasticity. The study further goes on to give astaxanthin credit for protecting the skin against radiation damage. Astaxanthin (ASX) appears to be a natural sunscreen.
The beauty of ASX is it has been shown to be effective at relatively low doses of between 6-12 mg. However, ASX should be consumed together with dietary fats to optimize bioavailability.
ASX pairs well with krill oil. The omega 3 fats in the krill oil are also good for your skin and work synergistically with astaxanthin. This combination will help you speed up your keto results and look better in the mirror.
ASX is really keto-friendly because as we lose weight on the ketogenic diet we tend to develop loose skin. Astaxanthin can help keep the skin tight, supple and elastic.
Quercetin is a phenolic flavonoid (antioxidant) and is one half of the rutin molecule. It has demonstrated promising biological functions including anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antiviral.
It looks like most of the studies are done with 500 mg of quercetin along with 250 mg of vitamin C. In this study, 60 male students with an athletic history of at least 3 years were given the quercetin-vitamin C combo for 8 weeks. Lean body mass, total body water, basal metabolic rate, and total energy expenditure increased significantly.
Additionally, this study showed quercetin-vitamin C was effective in reducing oxidative stress and reducing inflammatory biomarkers including CRP (C Reactive Protein) and IL-6.
Treatment with quercetin has been shown to prevent liver damage. Flavonoids have been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), atherosclerosis, and heart failure. Source: International Journal of Medical Sciences.
The antioxidant-rich foods that contain Quercetin are:
- red onions
- Brassica vegetables
- soybeans (Natto)
- red wine
- *Capers (raw) has the highest concentration of quercetin at 234 mg/100 g.
Coenzyme Q-10 (Ubiquinol)
Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ10) is a powerful antioxidant and probably the most common antioxidant available. Also known as ubiquinone, it gained its popularity along with the massive increase in the prescription of statin drugs. Statins are well known to deplete CoEnzyme Q-10 and doctors quite often recommend CoEnzyme Q-10 supplements along with statins.
It helps provide energy to the mitochondria. Coenzyme Q10 also benefits people with heart failure, high blood pressure, gum disease, Parkinson’s disease, and muscle weakness and pain associated with statin drugs. Coenzyme Q10 has shown to significantly reduce inflammation in the body.
This in-depth study shows that CoQ10 decreases as we age and supplementing with CoQ10 provide health benefits to the elderly. It appears to lessen chronic oxidative damage and mitochondrial dysfunction associated with cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
Resveratrol and Pterostilbene are in the stilbenoid family, they provide “phytoalexin” which is produced by plants in response to injury. The stilbenoid compounds are found in the skin of the below-listed foods.
Food sources for Resveratrol and Pterostilbene are:
Resveratrol and Pterostilbene are best when taken together. They provide a synergistic effect. Resveratrol has been around a while, but pterostilbene is the powerful newcomer. Pterostilbene is much more potent, (80% more bioavailable) than resveratrol.
In this study titled, “Neuroprotective action of Resveratrol.” Resveratrol has been shown to increase the clearance of beta-amyloid, a leading contributor to Alzheimer’s disease.
The link between calorie restricting (fasting) and aging is still emerging, but preliminary studies show fasting can increase longevity and health by stimulating sirtuins and autophagy. Yes, fasting might be the fountain of youth we’ve been looking for.
Similar to fasting, pterostilbene has shown to activate sirtuins (Sirt1) and may be able to extend lifespan and provide protection against the health decline associated with aging.
Pterostilbene is commonly referred to as the “fasting-mimicking supplement.” You can read all about this amazing antioxidant at pterostilbene.com.
Why should pterostilbene and resveratrol be taken together?
Not only pterostilbene and resveratrol but quercetin also. It looks like when you take all three antioxidants together they have a powerful effect.
This study from Springer Link showed even at low doses, resveratrol, pterostilbene, and quercetin synergistically lessened oxidative injury of membrane lipids.
Pterostilbene has a much longer half-life and is much more bioavailable, but resveratrol activates more sirtuins. So when taken together they have a good 1-2 punch.
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
What Is Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)?
Is an organic compound that contains sulfur (organosulfur). It is made from caprylic acid (octanoic acid). ALA is derived from animals and is important for aerobic metabolism. ALA has shown to have antioxidative properties and works in the mitochondria to help enzymes turn nutrients into energy.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid is one of the best antioxidants available as a supplement. It has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, improve skin elasticity and protect against neurogenerative diseases.
Here is the link from Pubmed that shows the mechanism that alpha-lipoic acid improves insulin sensitivity.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is the biomarker for inflammation. This study from Science Direct shows that alpha-lipoic acid supplementation could significantly decrease CRP level in patients with elevated levels of this inflammatory marker.
Acetyl L- Carnitine and Alpha Lipoic Acid
Synergistic combination: Acetyl L- Carnitine and Alpha Lipoic Acid are an interesting antioxidant supplement combination. You see this being sold in most grocery stores along with the common vitamins. The popularity of this combination primarily comes from a very promising study from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
The study showed the benefit of alpha-lipoic acid/acetyl-L-carnitine in patients with metabolic syndrome with improvement to insulin sensitivity and lowering of blood pressure. Those results are consistent with the mounting evidence linking insulin resistance to mitochondrial dysfunction.
What’s old is new: Vitamin C
Vitamin C is the red-headed stepchild of antioxidant supplements. I didn’t want to include it because it’s old and boring. However, as I continued my research for this article, vitamin C kept surfacing.
Every stone I overturned told me vitamin C is an amazingly under-rated antioxidant. Pubmed has 62,468 published studies on Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin so it has to be replenished daily. Don’t worry about getting too much because excess amounts of the vitamin pass from the body through urine. Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of bodily tissues.
It works with collagen to make and repair teeth, bone, cartilage, skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is one of the best antioxidants to take with red meat because It also helps the absorption of iron. Many women are low on iron.
Vitamin C is one of the oldest supplements in humankind history.
Centuries ago, sailors frequently died of scurvy because vitamin C was in short supply on most ships.
It was not until 1753 that scurvy was recognized in the British medical community as directly related to vitamin C deficiency.
In 1933 Dr. Szent-György synthesized vitamin C. He produced three pounds of pure crystalline vitamin C from the spice paprika.
In 1937, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for his discoveries in connection with the biological combustion processes, with special reference to vitamin C.”
New Studies on Vitamin C
Make no mistake vitamin C was and is one of the best antioxidant supplements available. This study on Pubmed showed vitamin C significantly reduced glucose concentrations in patients with type 2 diabetes if taken greater than 30 days.
Vitamin C is predominantly found in fruit and those of us on a Ketogenic Diet eat very little fruit.
Many of us on the ketogenic diet don’t eat fruit and not enough vegetables. Vitamin C is a mandatory nutrient and must come from dietary sources. For those of us on a ketogenic diet supplementing with vitamin C is highly recommended.
These are the antioxidant dense foods with the highest Vitamin C content:
- Bell Peppers
- Brussels Sprouts
- Bok Choy
- Swiss Chard