The Importance of Antioxidants to Your Health

The Importance of Antioxidants to Your Health

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  1. Throughout recorded history, people have sought curatives to ward off the various illnesses that can befall them in the course of a lifetime.  In their pursuit, however, they’ve often fallen under the spell of unscrupulous medicine men and crafty road-side snake-oil salesmen touting miracle elixirs said to cure everything from gout to pleurisy to hair loss.

    The health-conscious today, however, are much more health-savvy due to the vast amount of information now easily accessible via the Internet. A growing number of individuals routinely conduct their own research on the properties of various vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other natural substances that come to public attention said to improve the immune system, fend off viruses and disease, and cleanse the body of toxins. And it is for this very reason that most everyone is now familiar with those strangely-named things called antioxidants.  But while most are aware that these mysterious substances are good for the human body, far fewer know the importance of antioxidants to their health

     

    The Importance of Antioxidants to Your Health:

    Simply put, science has identified “oxidation” of the body’s internal molecules as a prime cause of contracting a wide range of diseases.  According to scientists leading this field of research, everything from cancer to arteriosclerosis to cataracts all appear to have an “oxidative” component to their origin.

    But fortunately, antioxidantsVitamins C (ascorbic acid), Vitamin E (Tocopherols), as well as flavonoids and carotenoids — have been well documented as having the ability to hinder oxidation of these endangered molecules. In fact, antioxidants naturally assist the body in warding off a number of ailments when used as preventative agents. But all antioxidants do not provide the same protection nor function in the same way–nor are they interchangeable.

    Vitamin E, for example, works primarily by neutralizing what are known as “free radicals,” atoms within molecules that are missing one or more electrons and so are very reactive (a bit of science that isn’t necessary to understand to get the gist). Vitamin E functions in what has been termed a “sacrificial manner,” by transferring one of its own electrons to the reactive molecule, thus destroying the free radical. Vitamin E works primarily in the lipid (fats) portions of cell membranes.

    Vitamin C, however, does its work within a completely different area of the cell, in the liquid inside the cells. In coordination with Vitamin E, Vitamin C targets radicals before they have a chance to damage lipids. In the process, it protects the immune system by activating antibodies and our natural immune system, while being a catalyst for the absorption of the amino acid carnitine that regulates the human nervous system.  Vitamin C is also instrumental in helping the body absorb iron and break down histamine–the inflammatory component that makes allergic reactions so uncomfortable.

     

    Natural Sources of These Valuable Substances:

    Fortunately for us, antioxidants are readily available from a number of natural food sources: Vitamin C is found in a number of fruits (including berries, lemons, melons, oranges, kiwi, and tomatoes) and vegetables (including asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, and potatoes). Vitamin E is easily acquired from vegetable oils (including almonds and a number of other nuts, peanut butter, spinach and other green leafy vegetables). And flavonoids are found in soy, fruit, olive oil, cinnamon, oregano, and red wine, with carotenoids found in fruits, vegetables, and eggs.

    While natural sources are almost always a better source of antioxidants than supplements, most health authorities agree that supplements — and that doesn’t mean multiple vitamins — are better in the long run than none at all. But it’s important to read the dosage on supplement bottles because it is possible to produce toxic levels in the body if taken to excess.  But as sciene repeatedly confirms, we should never underestimate the importance of antioxidants to our over-all health

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