Antioxidant protection explained

Antioxidants are a great way to protect your body against free radicals.

 

OK, this is all well and good if you know what free radicals are, what they do and where to find antioxidant protection. So let’s start with free radicals.

 

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules in our bodies that can cause damage to our brains, neurological systems, and other tissues. They are a common by-products of normal reactions. Fortunately our body has a couple of ways of deactivating these free radicals.

 

Free radical damage is caused when the free radical does damage to cells and kills them. Kill enough cells and you can kill the entire organism. Kill just enough cells and you can cause disease and illness. This cell damage is also linked to aging.

 

For instance, with increased sun exposure and constant tanning your skin will break down faster because of free radical damage. The same is true of smoking. Cigarette, pipe and cigar smoking will break down the skin faster causing you to appear older than you really are.

 

Antioxidant protection is one way your body can protect you against free radical damage. The good news is that antioxidants are found in abundance in nature and whole foods. The bad news is that most of us don’t eat whole foods, fruits and vegetables.

 

Older blood tests done years ago weren’t able to fully evaluate if our body’s were using antioxidant protection against free radicals. Scientists knew that antioxidants would protect against free radicals in the test tube but they appeared to disappear in the body. With more recent testing researchers are able to find these in the plasma.

 

The key is a balance of free radicals and antioxidants inside the body to protect against the free radical damage. Antioxidants can originate from inside the body or as part of our diet. If there isn’t enough antioxidants manufactured for the amount of free radicals produced then it’s time to take in more antioxidant protection.

 

Antioxidant protection comes from Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, minerals, Zinc, Magnesium, Copper, Carotenoid and flavonoids. So if the protection comes from vitamins and minerals where does the damage come from? Free radicals can be produced from inside the body when you are under stress, smoke cigarettes, radiation from the sun (tanning), and foods containing heavy metals.

 

If you feel your diet doesn’t contain enough variety or you have bad eating habits it would be in your best interest to take a good multi-vitamin that contains many of the antioxidant protection vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately your body doesn’t absorb vitamins the same from supplements as it does from your diet but when your diet isn’t adequate then they have to come from somewhere.

 

Remember, that with all things, it is easier to prevent an illness or condition than to cure it. Using antioxidants appropriately should help you to prevent diseases such as heart disease, degenerative dementia, and Alzheimer.

 

So to prevent free radical damage you should maintain a proper diet as much as possible and take supplements as needed; avoid too much sunlight, cigarette smoking, alcohol and use proven stress management techniques to reduce and manage the stress in your life.

 

RESOURCES

Journal of American Academy of Dermatology: Cutaneous Photodamage, oxidative stress, and topical antioxidant protection
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12522365
National Cancer Insitute: Antioxidant and Cancer Prevention
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/antioxidants

 

Circulation: Antioxidant Protection of LDL by Physiological Concentrations of 17B-Estradiol
http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/95/6/1378.full
ScienceDirect: Lipid Peroxidation, Antiosicant protection and Aging
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925443997000677
Chiro: Sustaining the Brain with Antioxidant Protection
http://www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Sustaining_The_Brain.shtml

 

The Lancet: Antioxidant Protection
http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(84)91822-1/abstract

 

Penn State News: Probing Questions: how do Antioxidant Work?
http://news.psu.edu/story/141171/2008/08/18/research/probing-question-how-do-antioxidants-work
Harvard School of public Health: Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/