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Antioxidants The Free-Radical Antidote

Apr 23, 2008
The new knowledge found by scientists connecting free radicals to a number of degenerative biologic functions, combined with the increase in the median age, has made interest in antioxidants skyrocket. Because the population wants to enjoy life as much as possible and are willing to fight the effects of aging from all angles, antioxidants are becoming the choice weapon to do this. Even though consumers are not always able to interpret the scientific jargon about antioxidants and how they work, they do have a feeling that they do work and are, in general, safe and an essential part of a proper diet.

Antioxidants are powerful compounds which are able to stop the rush of cellular damage that are caused by free-radicals. Oxidants can damage cells by starting chemical chain reactions, or even damaging DNA at the cellular level. Because DNA is the blueprint for our cells to reproduce, damage to it can cause serious problems. Thankfully, plants and animals have found a way to fight oxidative damage by manufacturing antioxidant compounds within the body. However, levels of these fighters decline along with age, causing ingestion of antioxidants more and more important.

The body creates glutathione peroxidase (GPx) as its own protective mechanism to target lipid hydroperoxide and hydrogen peroxide. By increasing fruit and vegetable intake, the production of GPx can be improved and supplemental selenium can also help this production as well. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is also created in the body to target free radicals and break it down into hydrogen peroxide and oxygen. With SOD supplementation, you can protect DNA from oxidative damage and increase the blood antioxidant activity and improve health.

Far beyond internal defenses, nature has also provided us with thousands of antioxidants. Included in these are: vitamin C, which acts as a foil for oxidative stress relative to cardiovascular disease; vitamin E, which is helpful for healthy immune and cardiovascular function along with preventing cholesterol fractions from oxidizing into more harmful forms; and coenzyme Q10, which facilitates the energy process and works as an antioxidant by picking up free radical molecules and rendering them harmless.

By controlling free radical production before the chain reaction of damage can occur, oxidative stress and the human diseases associated with it can be avoided. Consumers are encouraged to take a comprehensive multivitamin/mineral product that are loaded with vitamin A, C, D and other substances that act as an antioxidant and fight free radical damage.

Because the brain has high levels of lipids, it is especially susceptible to oxidation, causing damage to cells, tissues, and genetic material. Unchecked oxidation can contribute to the development of illnesses including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and dementia. Several antioxidant compounds have been shown in studies to produce positive results including Carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, tocotrienol, alpha lipoic acid, melatonin, grape seed extract, and pomegranate.

The eyes let in UV light, which is a key contributor to oxidation, leaving the retina as an ideal environment for the generation of free radicals. Because of this, antioxidants serve a vital role in the eyes. Carotenoids are extremely important in the eyes, as lutein and Zeaxanthin are based in the macular pigment and supplementation of these can prevent retinal degeneration by protecting the eyes from damaging sunlight. Astaxanthin can also protect the eyes from lipid per oxidation. Some specific flavonoids that help protect the eyes against antioxidant damage include quercetin, EGCG (green tea), and bilberry.

Berries, especially cranberry and blueberry are extremely rich in antioxidant polyphenols. These, along with lycopene, are extremely useful to help prevent oxidative stress that can affect the heart. It is recommended by the American Health Association to consume a diet high in food sources of antioxidants and other heart-protecting nutrients including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. A combination of vitamin supplements and good diet can help one live a longer healthier life.
About the Author
More information is available on antioxidant supplements is available at VitaNet , LLC Health Food Store. http://vitanetonline.com/
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