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Boost Your Health With Antioxidants

Feb 5, 2008
Aging is big business, and today's market is flooded with products that blur the lines between healthcare, beauty and simple fads. Many of these products contain antioxidants to fight aging and promote wellness. We've learned about the benefits of antioxidants from marketing, but it's also important to understand what antioxidants are, and how they work.

Antioxidants are nutrients that occur naturally in the humans and fruits, vegetables and other plants. Our bodies need antioxidants in order to properly function. These are important nutrients that act as cell protectors and they maintain good health by slowing the destructive aging of cellular molecules.

When cells function normally, they produce damaged molecules called free radicals that can cause further damage to the body. They steal fat, protein, DNA and other vital components from healthy cellular molecules. If left unchecked, these free radicals can cause a multitude of serious health concerns including heart damage, cataracts, cancer and a weak immune system.

One of the most important benefits of antioxidants is the ability to stabilize free radicals. With these stabilizing components, antioxidants can help to prevent widespread cellular destruction, reducing further damage to the system. Antioxidants can return to the surface level and steady the cells, instead of causing damage to other components.

Despite some research contradictions, several studies have shown that antioxidants have the ability to improve immune responses and vaccine recognitions in cats and dogs. This is particularly useful in vaccinating young animals that lack fully developed immune systems.

Antioxidants are significant in older animals too, as they reverse the reduction of immune cell functions. Studies have also revealed that a combination of many different antioxidants, when given in average amounts, can be more effective than high level doses of a single antioxidant.

In the human body, and in plant life, naturally occurring antioxidants come in different forms. Vitamins A, C and E, and carotenoids including beta-carotene and lutein are all familiar sources of antioxidants. These nutrients are like the building blocks of our good health and are especially beneficial in preventing heart disease by blocking the spread of free radicals.

Vitamin E is a common source of antioxidants that protects us from cardiovascular disease by defending against LDL oxidation and artery-clogging plaque development. There have been numerous studies showing that antioxidants can also reduce the risk of cancer. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce rates of cancer of the larynx, mouth and esophagus.

If you'd like to boost your intake of antioxidants, fruits and vegetables are excellent sources. Choose brightly and deeply pigmented foods such as tomatoes, red bell peppers, carrots and spinach. These offer the highest concentrations of this essential health booster.

There is no doubt that there are many benefits of antioxidants. What is not clear, however, is exactly how much should be taken and whether antioxidants should be supplemented at all. Further, long-term consequences of taking mega-doses of antioxidants are not known. Antioxidants occur naturally, but they are a chemical and must be treated with due caution.

Make an appointment with your doctor to speak about boosting your body with the benefits of antioxidants.
About the Author
Myron Huett is a columnist for a variety of web magazines, on healthy diet and healthy eating issues.
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