Your body needs antioxidants because of a particular type of chemical reaction that takes place in your body which causes oxidative damage to your cells.
In a way, the damage that occurs is a little like the process of rusting that takes place when metal is exposed to air and moisture. The structure and integrity of the metal is damaged over time with repeated unprotected exposure to the elements.
With your body, it is the structure of your cells that is damaged by the process of oxidative stress.
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Unstable molecules called free radicals traveling around in your blood stream attempt to stabilize themselves by stealing electron particles from any cells that they come into contact with.
While this process stabilizes the free radical molecules, it rips and tears the cellular structure of the healthy cell that the free radical stole its electron from.
If cells continually die or replicate in this damaged and unstable state, premature aging and disease can result. Antioxidant health benefits whether in foods or supplements have become popular for this reason.
|The role of antioxidants, whether contained in food or as bioavailable real food supplements is to donate a free electron to a damaging free radical molecule before it damages a healthy cell. The free electron stabilizes the free radical and damage to healthy cells is minimized or prevented|
We hear a lot about sources of antioxidants in foods these days..and yes it is important to include certain foods in your diet...but interestingly your body already knows that it has to combat the process of oxidative stress by actually producing its own powerful version called Glutathione.
Glutathione exists within the body's cell's. This places it in an ideal position to neutralize free radicals and to increase your body's detoxification reactions. If you have been exposed to a lot of environmental toxicity..and that would include most of us, then having high levels of Glutathione in your body is very desirable.
Scientists at the University of Texas found that by using a combination of essential Glyconutrient sugars they were able to raise Glutathione levels by 20% in healthy cells - and protect against the depletion of Cellular Glutathione by 50% in cells that were under toxic stress.
21st Century Living:
The human body was designed to withstand free radical assault in an environment that is very different to the one that most of us live in today.
It is normal for example for free radicals to be generated in your body simply by moving your muscles. Athletes generate a much higher level of oxidative stress in their body as a result of exercise than a person who gets no exercise...That's not a good enough reason for you not to exercise though!
It isn't normal for your body to have to deal with a vastly increased free radical onslaught as a result of toxicity exposure.
Environmental Toxicity and Free Radicals:
Prior to the 1930's, synthetic chemistry was rare...limited to the odd color dye..an early plastic called Bakelite and experimentation with polymers which resulted in the invention of neoprene and nylon...now, virtually everything we come into contact with has a synthetic component...some of which are highly toxic..
Exposure to toxic substances increase your daily free radical burden over and above what your body is designed to cope with.
Since the 1930's over seventy five thousand synthetic chemical substances have been released into the environment and only a tiny portion of those have been tested for toxicity in humans.
Polar Bears and Penguins:
It seems that no one is free from exposure either as traces of environmental toxins have been found in the fatty tissues of Penguins in the South Pole and Polar bears in the North Pole!
If we add to this the increasing psychological stress that many people are experiencing in modern life..something that is known to increase oxidative stress and free radical production in the human body… it is obvious that we are all living in an environment that requires greater protection than would have been necessary in days gone by.
Oxidative Stress and Your Heart
There is strong evidence that oxidative stress does play a key role in the mechanism of various cardiovascular diseases..including atherosclerosis.
Therefore, it follows that anything you can do to minimize oxidative stress caused by free radical molecules will help to reduce your risk profile for the development of coronary heart disease.
If you have heard conflicting reports regarding the benefits of antioxidant supplements and are confused about whether you need to supplement your diet then consider this as you make your decision.
A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that a diet high in certain plant based foods - fruits and vegetables for example can help to prevent free radical damage in your body. However it is a sad fact that virtually no one eats sufficient amounts of these foods on a daily basis...and if you did, you would need to eat them fresh and raw for maximum benefit..not out of the refrigerator and then cooked.
Even if you were to eat regular daily amounts of fresh, raw vegetables and fruits, you can't be certain that the nutrient content of those foods is supplying you with sufficient amounts of protective compounds for your needs. Produce is not routinely checked for its nutrient content.
However, antioxidants found in your food are wide and varied..and contain many more active compounds than is usually present in common supplement products.
Many supplement products contain mega doses of an isolated antioxidant like vitamin E for example...
...In nature, Vitamin E is present in various plant foods in very small concentrations only..and then it is present with other important healthful plant substances...a synergistic blend.
|A combination of low milligram doses of the most effective antioxidants that have been combined for best synergistic effect will yield better and safer results than the mega doses of familiar antioxidants like vitamin E, C and Beta carotene|
If you choose to supplement with an antioxidant formula, then choose a
product that combines important protective ingredients in the same way
that nature does. Bigger is not always better!
What's the bottom line here?
Because your body is under greater stress from the oxidative effects of free radicals than in previous generations, it makes sense to maximize your protection.
If you choose to use a supplement, I advise that you consider the following points.
Additionally..and this is probably the most important point...
Some products may have an ORAC rating...Serum ORAC is far superior.
If manufacturers and developers have not been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of their product in human blood then there is no way of knowing how effective it will be in providing you with protection. It may even be pro oxidative which you definitely don't need!