< Antioxidants
hands in waterAlthough oxygen is vital to life, scientists are finding this essential element may contribute to human aging and illness. Unstable oxygen molecules are generated in the body as by-products of eating, breathing and living. These molecules lack an electron on its outer orbit, making it extremely unstable. To reclaim their electrons free radicals attack our another molecule, perhaps in a cell wall or a strand of DNA, damaging them and boosting the probability of disease.

As free-radical damage mounts, cells can no longer perform properly. Tissues degrade and disease sets in. An excess of free radicals has been cited in the development of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and cancer. Aging itself has been defined as a gradual accumulation of free radical damage.

Fortunately, antioxidants target free radicals and protect us. Their role is to limit the damage, which they do by giving up their own electrons to the free radicals and saving the cell from attack. The body produces its own natural antioxidants to handle free radicals, but if the free-radical generation becomes excessive due to toxic stressors like air pollution, pesticides, smoking, drug or alcohol abuse and excess exercise damage can occur.

Vitamins A, C and E, and the trace mineral selenium are powerful antioxidants. The body cannot make them so they must be constantly replenished through a diet rich in colourful vegetables, fruit and herbs (the antioxidants are in the colour) or by supplementation.

Vitamin C

Ascorbic acid is the most abundant water-soluble antioxidant in the body. Particularly helpful in combatting free-radical formation caused by pollution and cigarette smoke.

Vitamin E

D-Alpha Tocopherol is the most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant in the body and one of the most efficient antioxidants available.


An antioxidant, which is converted to vitamin A in the body.


An essential mineral, which synergistically works with vitamin E in carrying out antioxidant duties. Co-enzyme Q10 A vitamin-like, naturally occurring, nutrient normally found in every cell in the body. It acts as a very powerful antioxidant and it also offers protection against the accumulation and deposit of oxidised fats in blood vessels, which can lead to atherosclerosis (a build-up of fatty substances on the inner walls of the coronary arteries).

Alpha lipoic acid

The body needs alpha lipoic acid to produce energy and makes enough for these basic metabolic functions. Alpha lipoic acid only acts as an antioxidant when there is an excess of it and it is in the 'free' state in the cells. Except for yeast and liver, foods contain only tiny amounts so it is necessary to supplement it to achieve the levels necessary for antioxidant activity.

As an antioxidant, it helps deactivate a wide array of fat- and water-soluble free radicals in many bodily systems. In particular, it may help protect the genetic material, DNA. Lester Packer, who heads a molecular and cell biology laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley has demonstrated that it works closely with vitamins C and E and some other antioxidants, 'recycling' them, making them much more effective.


There is a debate in the scientific world as to whether supplemental antioxidants are good or bad as many of the hundreds of studies on antioxidants have had neutral or negative results. There are theories that in certain circumstance excess antioxidants may become pro-oxidants. The jury is still out. It would seem that taking antioxidant supplements requires a balancing act, according to individual circumstances, which is best formulated by a well-informed natural health professional and is not self-prescribed.
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