Role of Antioxidants

Three or four decades ago free radicals were not so much a problem because food was not processed and much more nutritious Exposure to the same level of pollution, radiation, toxins in food and chemicals in our everyday environment was bare minimum.

This is certainly not the case today. We need much more protection and shielding than before. Antioxidants play a key role here.

Our bodies majorly produce the damaging free radicals or foreign substances due to:

1. Oxidation:

Oxidation is simply unavoidable. As long as we breathe oxygen there will be oxidation in our body and thus the creation of free radicals will always happen.

2. Pollution, unhealthy diet, stress:

In an ideal world with no pollution, perfect diet and no stress, the level of free radical activity would be ‘normal’ and they would not cause a serious problem. But this is just an ideal situation. We are subjected to air pollution, second hand smoke, lack of nutrients in the diet, toxins in food and toxic chemicals at any given time.

Free radicals are simple molecules with an electron missing. In an effort to become ‘whole’ again they seek out other chemical structures in our bodies from where they can steal an electron. After they ‘acquire’ an electron the chemical structure/ tissue from where they ‘stole’ that electron is left damaged.

Free radicals in small and controlled quantities are fine. Problems start when the production of these free radicals increases and gets out of control.

Although the damage from free radicals may not be completely avoided, it can be minimized by neutralizing the free radicals by anti-oxidants.

The role of antioxidants is to capture and destroy free radicals. Antioxidants voluntarily give one of their electrons to a free radical molecule. They can do this without hurting themselves.

If the body remains insufficient in these warriors, ageing will accelerate and health would suffer.

There are many forms of antioxidants ranging from the simple inexpensive rather weak Vitamin C through expensive nutrients such as astaxanthin and L-glutathione just to mention a few.

Examples of Anti-oxidants

There are literally hundreds of anti-oxidants, with varying levels of potency. For example, the common vitamins A, C and E are all anti-oxidants, but are weak. And so is selenium. They are all necessary but they are really not as potent as L-glutathione antioxidant.

The body can produce L-glutathione provided the internal systems are functioning properly and it is given the necessary precursors but if possible it is best to supplement it.

Glutathione is a key antioxidant because it is contained in all the cells that surround the sub endothelial space. When the nutrients needed for the synthesis of glutathione (selenium, B2, niacin, and N acetyl L cysteine) are provided one can actually improve the body’s overall antioxidant defense system.

Bioflavanoids have anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory properties. They are known to decrease the formation of oxidized LDL cholesterol. They also help protect the integrity of the endothelium.

Grape seed extract and green tea extracts are believed to be the best bioflavonoid antioxidant in helping prevent chronic inflammatory disease.

Another well-known health supplement that affects a wide range of age-related illnesses is alpha lipoic acid (ALA). ALA is important to cell functioning in our bodies, including metabolism and producing energy. Research shows that when there is an excess of ALA in the body, more than the amount that’s absolutely needed to power basic functions, ALA functions as an antioxidant, helping to prevent and even reverse many of the diseases and conditions that we associate with aging.

Reference:

  1. Ray D. Strand. "What your doctor doesn’t know about nutritional medicine may be killing you"

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