Energy Support: 5 Antioxidants That Help Support Your Energy Levels

Healthy foods high in antioxidants, top view.
We could all use more energy in our day, but did you know research shows older adults who keep physically active produce energy at a similar level to active younger adults?2 How? By improving how their cells work.
Nearly all cells in your body contain energy-making powerhouses known as mitochondria. The mitochondria help convert your food — carbohydrates, fats, and proteins — into energy. Regular exercise improves the performance of your mitochondria.

While the process of converting food to energy is essential to life, it can also cause compounds called free radicals. If free radical levels get too high, they can negatively impact the performance of your mitochondria and contribute to ageing and chronic disease.

Thankfully there are antioxidants in our foods that can help reduce free radicals and the damage they can cause.

These antioxidants include:

1. Resveratrol Resveratrol is found in grape skin and berries. Resveratrol helps reduce free radicals, protects cells and helps reduce inflammation.3

2. Vitamin E Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant, neutralising free radicals.4 Find vitamin E in vegetable oils such as wheat germ oil and olive oil, nuts and leafy green vegetables.5

3. Alpha-lipoic acid alpha-lipoic acid is made by the body; it protects the mitochondria from free radicals and helps them make energy. Alpha-lipoic can be found in spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes.

4. N-acetylcysteine N-acetylcysteine is a compound used by the body to make a powerful antioxidant called glutathione.7 Glutathione has the unique ability to recycle itself multiple times, so it can keep fighting free radicals for you. Glutathione also supports liver function.8

5. Ubiquinol Ubiquinol is the active form of an antioxidant called Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 is found in organ meat, fatty fish, spinach, and strawberries and is needed by the mitochondria to make energy. As we age, we find it harder to make CoQ10 and turn it into Ubiquinol for our bodies to use. Supplementing ubiquinol levels may help protect the mitochondria from free radicals and help your cells produce energy.

2Distefano G, Standley RA, Zhang X, Carnero EA, Yi F, Cornnell HH, Coen PM. Physical activity unveils the relationship between mitochondrial energetics, muscle quality, and physical function in older adults. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2018 Apr;9(2):279-294. doi: 10.1002/jcsm.12272. Epub 2018 Jan 24. PMID: 29368427; PMCID: PMC5879963.

3Galiniak S, Aebisher D, Bartusik-Aebisher D. Health benefits of resveratrol administration. Acta Biochim Pol. 2019 Feb 28;66(1):13-21. doi: 10.18388/abp.2018_2749. PMID: 30816367.

4Böhm V. Vitamin E. Antioxidants (Basel). 2018;7(3):44. Published 2018 Mar 20. doi:10.3390/antiox7030044


7Kelly GS. Clinical applications of N-acetylcysteine. Altern Med Rev. 1998 Apr;3(2):114-27. PMID: 9577247.


Boosting antioxidants through a diet rich in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and supplementing with nutrients such as Ubiquinol may give your cells the support they need as you age.

Dr Elizabeth Steels, Clinical Biochemist Research Director, Evidence Sciences Pty. Ltd. Adjunct Senior Researcher, University of QLD Bsc., Hon., Grad. Dip. Ed., Grad. Cert. Nutr., PHD.
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