More About Antioxidants
What is oxidation?
Every second of every day there are an incredible number of biochemical reactions occurring within your body, most of them beneficial, but some of them not so much. One of the most damaging is oxidation.
Oxidation is a chemical reaction in which a “healthy” molecule loses or is robbed of one of its electrons.
A molecule with an unpaired electron is called a free radical. These unstable molecules are highly reactive and will seek out other molecules to either rob them of an electron or to donate an electron in order to create an even number for itself.
In doing so a free radical can damage a cell and its important constituents such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and even DNA, all of which free radicals will attack. This can lead to cascading, overall disruption of cellular function.
What causes oxidation?
Ironically, something that’s absolutely essential for life is also one of the major causes of oxidation – oxygen. If you’ve seen a peeled piece of fruit begin to discolor after it’s been left sitting out, then you’ve witnessed oxidation firsthand. The same process occurs in your body, just at a much slower pace.
Oxidation in our bodies is normal and we’re pretty well-equipped to keep free radicals generated by oxidation in check. However, there are a number of external factors that can contribute to accelerated oxidation, including pollutants and other chemicals, cigarettes, alcohol, and more.
Over the course of your life the damage caused by free radicals accumulates, and scientists theorize that this accumulated damage contributes to flagging health as we age, and the inevitable aging process itself.
It’s important to note that oxidation can’t be avoided; it’s the result of normal physiological processes.
How do antioxidants help?
While we can’t stop oxidation, we can minimize its impact on our health and our appearance with antioxidants. An antioxidant may also be referred to as a free radical scavenger, but the two terms aren’t interchangeable.
An antioxidant is any molecule that’s stable enough to donate an electron to a free radical currently on a tear through your body, neutralizing it or reducing its capacity to do harm. Currently there are only three naturally occurring nutrients that are classified as antioxidants.
- Vitamin A – Vitamin A is actually a group of fat-soluble retinoids and carotenoids. There are two types of vitamin A found in our diet – pre-formed vitamin A retinoids (e.g., retinol and its esterified form, retinyl ester) and provitamin A carotenoids (e.g., beta carotene). Vitamin A is important for numerous bodily functions including normal visual function, immune system health, healthy bones and teeth, and healthy skin. Your body needs vitamin A to utilize protein. And of course, vitamin A is also an antioxidant that protects against free radical damage.
- Vitamin C – Probably the most well-known antioxidant nutrient, vitamin C is a staunch defender against free radical damage. It supports the immune system and is involved in tissue growth and repair due to its role in the formation of collagen, the body’s main structural protein. It’s an electron donor for the creation of important enzymes as well as a cofactor in numerous essential biochemicals.
- Vitamin E – Vitamin E is also known as alpha-tocopherol, one of a group of eight fat-soluble compounds – four tocotrienols and four tocopherols. It’s a well-known antioxidant vitamin that inhibits the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are formed when fat is oxidized. In addition, vitamin E is involved in a wide range of metabolic processes such as cell signaling and gene expression, and plays a role in normal blood clotting, immune system function, and neurological function.
NOW® antioxidant supplements
These days it’s almost impossible to avoid some sort of daily exposure to environmental pollutants, chemicals and other substances that can generate free radicals in our body. Even the simple act of breathing generates these harmful rogue molecules. But you can help minimize their impact on your body and your health with quality antioxidant supplements from NOW.