This Article is About
free radical damage
oxidation process
beta carotene
free radicals
vitamins minerals
dead cells
vitamins and minerals
tissue cells
prevention is better than cure
strenuous exercise
x rays
Antioxidants And How They Work
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Antioxidants And How They Work

To understand antioxidants and how they work we first need to understand what they are and what they do. In a nutshell, antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and enzymes which counteract what is known as oxidation which, although a normal process, damages tissue, cells and proteins. Antioxidants are thought to help prevent cancer, heart disease, strokes and Alzheimer's, to name but a few.

Oxidation is caused when the quantity of free radicals (chemically active atoms) is too numerous for the cells to be protected by the body's natural antioxidant system. Free radicals are unavoidable and can occur from inside the human body, caused by normal bodily processes such as metabolism, inflammation and aerobic respiration. They can also be caused by external influences such as smoking, alcohol, x-rays, pollution and sunlight. Even strenuous exercise can cause the proliferation of free radicals.

Some results of free radical damage are that cells will die because nutrients cannot reach them or because waste cannot be transported out. Cell DNA can be damaged so that instead of healthy cells being generated to replace dead cells, a non-functioning mutant cell will arrive. That's just the start, but it's enough to give you the picture of how deadly free radicals can be.

So now we know what antioxidants do, we can continue to understand antioxidants and how they work which basically is by counteracting free radicals and thus blocking the oxidation process. However, in the process of doing this, the antioxidants become damaged and therefore need to be replaced.

Prevention is better than cure though and boosting the body's antioxidants can prevent oxidation altogether by hunting down the free radicals which start the chain of damage. No single antioxidant can do this because their effectiveness depends on the free radical, where it came from and which cells it is seeking to damage.

Well known vitamins and minerals which are known to be antioxidants are Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium, manganese and zinc, all of which can be found in various food stuffs and in supplements. There are a number of other antioxidants known as phytochemicals which are also found in food.

If you don’t want to take supplements a good, varied diet should provide you with sufficient antioxidants as they are found in nuts, seeds, olives, fruit, vegetables (particularly red and yellow/orange ones for beta-carotene and green ones for phytochemicals), seafood, meat, chicken, liver, wholemeal bread and brown rice. Note that fats and sugars are not thought to contain antioxidant properties.


Street Talk

Great article...lots of good information here.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Well written and full of good information. Thanks.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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