Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Antioxidants as Defenders

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Antioxidants as Defenders

Article excerpt

Q.: What are antioxidants?

A.: Antioxidants are substances or chemicals that can destroy radicals.

Q.: How do antioxidants affect the body?

A.: Since our bodies use oxygen, they generate free radicals, which are associated with all kinds of chronic diseases. These diseases include cancer first and foremost. Free radicals often gather in pockets around one's body. After a certain amount of free radicals have concentrated in one place, that area can turn cancerous. If a person's body has enough antioxidants, they can destroy such groups of free radicals before they form a cancerous lesion in the body.

Q.: What are free radicals?

A.: Free radicals are a product of a chemical reaction that is generated any time a person breathes oxygen. There are different kinds of free radicals, but they are all essentially extra atoms knocked from molecules during the process of blood oxidization. These unpaired electrons are highly reactive with a number of things, including membranes, DNA [deoxyribonucleic acid], fatty acids, and all parts of a person's cells. Free radicals are considered atoms with unpaired electrons, which makes them highly reactive.

Q.: Do free radicals contribute to how quickly a cell ages?

A.: Yes, that is what they do to a cell. Excessive amounts of free radicals have an aging effect on cells they come into contact with. As people age, they have more free radicals in their body and fewer antioxidants. I noted an important supplement in my book that is important to quench the body's need for antioxidants. Not only does it slow down the aging process; it also prevents further damage by free radicals.

Q.: How do antioxidants defend the body?

A.: Free radicals are destroyed by antioxidants, so the body is defended by having a higher presence of antioxidants than free radicals. The fewer free radicals found in the body, the slower the cells age. Some antioxidants are made in the body, and some must be consumed. Both antioxidants are important, not just for aiding free radicals but for other aging processes and disease defenses as well as inflammation. Antioxidants contribute to stopping inflammation and cancer at very early stages.

Q.: Is it possible to have too high a level of antioxidants?

A.: Yes, it is possible to have too many antioxidants. Certain kinds of antioxidants are toxic, much like having too much vitamin A at once. Most antioxidants in high dosages are not toxic to the body; the body simply gets rid of extra antioxidants and uses what is needed. It is important to note that one must not take antioxidants for any one specific thing at any one time; antioxidants do not work on a dosage-based level. In order to benefit from antioxidants the most, one must continuously take all types of antioxidants at regular intervals. Just taking one or two specific antioxidants could actually harm the body.

Q.: In what ways do antioxidants defend the body against ultraviolet light, x-rays, and other forms of radiation?

A.: X-rays, gamma rays, and ultraviolet rays create free radicals in the body in a way that differs from oxidization. These free radicals are called mutagens, and they have the potential to cause cancer in a cell. These rays cause volatile effects in the body, such as inflammation and the generation of free radicals. Carcinogens from chemicals also contribute to the generation of free radicals.

All of these effects create free radicals, and that in turn causes ailments in the body ranging from cancer to inflammation to mutations and the progression of disease. The introduction of antioxidants slows the processes that plague the body. …

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