Antioxidants & Free Radicals

KEY SUPPLEMENTAL ANTIOXIDANTS 

 

Here is the list of the most effective antioxidants in the form of supplements that are very efficient in neutralising free radicals and reducing free radical damage in the body: 

 

Pine Bark Extracts such as Pycnogenol, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Coenzyme Q10, L-Cysteine & N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Resveratrol, Astaxanthin, Quercetin, Zeaxanthin, Lycopene, Lutein, Selenium, Zinc, Manganese, Chlorophyll, Vitamin A & Beta-carotene (Provitamin A), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Copper, Flavonoids, etc. 

 

Antioxidants and Free Radicals - Healthaid

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FREE RADICALS 

 

What are free radicals? 

 

Free radicals are atoms or molecules (groups of atoms) of oxygen, nitrogen or another type, but they are unstable and damaged atoms, as they have unpaired electrons that make them unstable and highly reactive. There are many types of free radicals, for instance, oxygen, nitrogen, or other types, but oxygen radicals are the most common ones. 

 

 

Why free radicals are so harmful to the human body? 

 

An atom’s condition and behaviour are determined by the number of electrons in its outermost shell. When the outermost shell is complete, the atom is stable and not reactive. But, if the outermost shell is not full, it becomes unstable and reactive. Free radicals form when one of the weak bonds between electrons is broken and an uneven number of electrons remain. As a result, such damaged atom will now try to steal an electron from stable atoms or neighbouring molecules of atoms to stabilize itself.

 

Unfortunately, although by gaining another electron this atom stabilises itself, it leaves its victim short of an electron converting it to a bad free radical, or a thief, which will steal electrons from good atoms. This process triggers a very harmful enormous chain reaction or a free radical cascade that quickly wreaks havoc on human cells and organs. It is estimated that such a radical chain reaction can trigger 6.023 x 1021 billion molecules to react per second! 

 

 

What type of damage do free radicals cause? 

 

This dangerous radical domino effect causes a lot of damage in human body. It damages cell’s DNA (genetic material) thus converting normal cells to abnormal ones. If these abnormal cells with damaged DNA multiply, they create tumours and finally Cancers and other problems. 

Radicals also harm cellular mitochondria (the energy-generating power stations of human cells). By damaging cellular engines radicals make us feel tired as our brain and muscle cells can’t produce enough energy. 

 

By imposing harmful effect on cellular mitochondria and DNA radicals weaken also the immune system cells thus greatly increasing the risk of developing cancer, autoimmune diseases, allergies, or chronic inflammations and frequent infections. 

Radicals also damage cell membranes, including the membranes that make the inner lining of arteries. As a result cholesterol builds up much faster in those damaged arteries leading to heart attacks and strokes. 

 

 

External sources of free radicals 

 

First of all we need to do our best to avoid the external sources – everything which causes overproduction of free radicals: 

 

  • Preservatives and bad chemicals in foods 
  • Herbicides and pesticides 
  • Pollution and radiation 
  • Heavy metals 
  • Stimulants (alcohol, smoking, illegal drugs, caffeine, etc.) 
  • Trans and hydrogenated fats (refined oils, margarine, chips, fried foods, etc.) 
  • Refined sugar and sweeteners 
  • Regular consumption of heated animal protein (dairy, meat) also activates immune system (leucocytosis) leading to overproduction of free radicals. 

 

 

Ways to reduce free radical damage

 

Since the more toxins liver has to neutralise the more radicals it will make we need to help our liver and bring it some relief by detoxifying the body through drinking distilled water, raw vegetables juices and herbal teas, ingesting chlorella, and charcoal, and by avoiding toxins. 

 

In summary, try to avoid sources of free radicals: Preservatives and bad chemicals in foods and supplements, Herbicides and pesticides, Pollution and radiation, Heavy metals, Stimulants (alcohol, smoking, illegal drugs), Trans and hydrogenated fats (refined oils, margarine, chips, fried foods, etc.), Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. 

 

In addition, take listed below supplemental antioxidants and eat foods that are known to be good sources of antioxidants. 

 

 

 

ANTIOXIDANTS 

 

Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to our cells caused by free radicals. They are sometimes called “free-radical scavengers.” Antioxidants are compounds produced in our body and found in various foods or nutritional supplements. 

 

 

How antioxidants prevent free radicals from causing oxidative damage? 

 

Free radicals are harmful because they are deprived of paired electrons and as a result they steal electrons from other atoms, making them bad zombies, thus triggering a very damaging to cells in our body chain reaction. Anti-oxidants, known as free radical scavengers, are the best and the only remedy against free radical damage, because they have the ability to neutralize these destructive radical particles. They do it by donating to radicals their own electrons. In this way, antioxidants transform bad radicals into healthy and good atoms or molecules (groups) of atoms.

 

However, donating their own electrons to free radicals, antioxidants themselves eventually perish in the process. 

 

 

Internal sources of antioxidants

 

Like it was with regards to the sources of radicals, also in case of antioxidants, there are internal and external sources. 

 

Our body makes its own powerful antioxidants such as Glutathione, Catalase, Superoxide dismutase (SOD), or Uric Acid, excess of which leads to gout, is also a potent antioxidant. Unfortunately, since we are exposed to so many free radicals due to stress, pollution, junk food and other sources, the demand for antioxidants is much higher now and therefore we need to help our body by providing it with additional antioxidants in the form of unrefined plant products, superfoods, super grasses, herbs and good quality supplements. 

 

 

Key supplemental antioxidants

 

Here is the list of the most effective antioxidants in the form of supplements that are very efficient in neutralising free radicals and reducing free radical damage in the body: 

 

Pine Bark Extracts such as Pycnogenol, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Coenzyme Q10, L-Cysteine & N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Resveratrol, Astaxanthin, Quercetin, Zeaxanthin, Lycopene, Lutein, Selenium, Zinc, Manganese, Chlorophyll, Vitamin A & Beta-carotene (Provitamin A), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Copper, Flavonoids, etc. 

 

 

Written by Slawomir Gromadzki (MPH) 

SOURCES 

 

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