Antioxidants and Free Radicals

Vitamin supplements offer antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and vitamin A. These antioxidants combat reactive oxygen intermediates (free radicals). In order for us to understand why it is important to take a vitamin supplement rich in antioxidants, we need to understand free radicals.

A free radical is simply a molecule that is missing an electron. As soon as a molecule loses one of its attached electrons, it becomes unstable and seeks to re-stabilize itself by stealing an electron from the nearest molecule. This causes the attacked molecule to then become a free radical, and starts a chain reaction. Ultimately as the process continues this can lead to cell damage.

Today, a great deal of experimental evidence supports the premise that length of life is determined by the crucial balance of antioxidants with free radicals in the body. Oxidation occurs when reactive oxygen particles form chain reactions which can cause cancer-like mutations and cell death.

The cells of our bodies are now increasingly subject to damage from free radicals due to the high levels of environmental toxins in our diet and the reduced levels of antioxidants in our food to combat free radical damage. Most companies which make skin care related products tout the goodness of antioxidants and natural products that contain antioxidants.

While health conscious people now know what an antioxidant supplement is, and how it protects cells in the body from becoming the victim of widespread free radical damage, many of us still don't realize that there are wide variations in the potency and efficacy of antioxidants. Both red wine and grape juice are known to have have a relatively high antioxidant value.

Health and nutrition experts have increasingly come to recognize the value of taking a synergistic blend of potent antioxidants, the cancer-fighting, health-promoting nutrients that help boost the immune system naturally. Free radicals do serve a purpose they are produced in your body in small numbers. Not all of them are dangerous in normal circumstances. They are produced by the immune system to destroy bacteria and viruses.

Antioxidants are essentially natural compounds that protect our bodies from free radical damage to our cells. This destructive process is called oxidation. Just like many metals oxidize and then rust, our own bodies tend to do the same over time. They also play a major part in activating enzymes, producing energy, and hormones. But if there is an excessive amount of them they can do more extensive damage.

Not all fruits are created equal. Some fruits have more antioxidant content than others. While one fruit may have nutrients with antioxidant properties, others may only have vitamins. But whatever the case, it is clear that the antioxidants in fruit are good for your health. Cranberries, Strawberries, Bilberries, Cherries and Raspberries have a particularly high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) Value.

The production of free radicals is a normal bodily process, and it is part of the process of breathing and living. Free radicals are normally neutralized by the body's natural defense system, rendering them harmless. However, anything that weakens the body's natural defenses weakens its ability to fight off these free radicals. Those weakening agents include environmental pollution, excess UV radiation and even excessive consumption of alcohol.


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