Antioxidants, What Are They
And Why Do We Need Them?
Perhaps, even a little bit more. According to Wikipedia.com, "an antioxidant is a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules."
Antioxidants And Chain Reactions
Have you ever seen a rusty nail? Well, most likely everyone has. That rust is what we call oxidation. This same type of process occurs within our cells-caused by chemical reactions that literally transfers unpaired electrons to a cell.
Damage or death of a cell can occur after this chemical chain reaction takes place. When this occurs within a chemical product, bi-products can be produced-such as plastics or even an oil film of paint. These deadly molecules are called free radicals.
The ability to stop the formation of a free radical can be induced by an antioxidant. An antioxidant has the ability to stop this oxidation process or reaction.
How does this happen? The antioxidant gives up and donates one or more of it's electrons so that the cell or molecule can remain healthy. Sometimes this is known as reduction-the antioxidants are reduced themselves by oxidation. Some of the well-known antioxidants are ascorbic acid-vitamin C-and polyphenols that are found in various dark colored fruits.
The Use Of Antioxidants
Oxidation and reduction reactions are critical for life processes, but they can also be quite harmful to our bodies. For this reason, humans and all plant-life, have large and complex sytstems-mulitple layers of antioxidants like *glutathione*, ascorbic acid or vitamin C, vitamin E, and enzymes like catalase, superoxide dismutase, and other peroxidases.
When these antioxidants are present in low amounts or even absent, then serious damage and even death can occur at the cellular level.
Fighting Oxidative Stress With Antioxidants
We now know that stress related oxidation is directly related to disease in humans. The use of antioxidants in treating people, in supplement form, is of great scientific interest in the medical community.
The most common areas of this new science being studied is in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and in strokes-even though it is still not known whether oxidation is the cause or the results of such diseases.
Many supplements are being formulated to contain antioxidants, and these are now under investigation for their potential to aid in the prevention of heart disease, cancer, and oddly in altitude sickness.
Food Based Antioxidants That Are Healthy
Some of these dietary antioxidants are green tea extract, resveratrol, and mixtures of various dark red and purple fruits, such as acai berry, pomegranate, blackberries, cherries, goji berries, noni berries, grapes, and even some herbal supplements.