Anti-aging supplements are big business, now more than ever. Typically the supplements claim to reduce the damage caused by free radicals by providing a massive dose of antioxidants, the size of which could only otherwise be taken by consuming huge quantities of nutrient rich fruit. This article discusses antioxidants and free radicals, how antioxidants fight the damage caused by free radicals, and also examines possible sources of antioxidants.
What are Free radicals?
It is difficult to explain exactly what a free radical is without going into a huge amount of scientific detail. Basically, a stable molecule contains a pair of electrons. Free radicals are produced when a chemical reaction causes the molecule to split into two unpaired electrons. Free radicals are very reactive, and can cause damage to a cell in the body. If free radicals react with core cellular components such as DNA, then those cells may die. Air pollution, cigarette smoke, and pesticides are all sources of free radicals, with cigarette smoke being especially dangerous. One of the most popular theories of aging is based around free radicals, and the cell damage caused by them can be likened to the way an apple turns brown over time when its flesh is exposed.
How Antioxidants can help prevent the damage
Antioxidants, in food terms, refer to foods rich in nutrients such as vitamins C and E. It is thought that these nutrients play a very important role in the body’s defence against disease and are generally good for a person’s health. Free radicals commonly occur in the form of an oxygen molecule, and this molecule wants to be oxidised. If the free radical is successful in oxidising, this is the process which causes the cellular damage. Antioxidants, as their name suggests, neutralises these free radicals by preventing them from oxidising, and therefore causing damage to the body’s cells. So, if the body has enough antioxidants, the damage caused by free radicals will be minimised.
Sources of Antioxidants
As previously mentioned, two sources of antioxidants are vitamins C and E. Good providers of vitamin C are oranges, strawberries, tomatoes and broccoli, amongst others. Vitamin E can be found in nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains. With the busy 21st century lifestyle most of us have nowadays, it isn’t always possible to consume as much fruit and nuts as we should. There are a variety of health supplements available, which are probably the best option for most people’s source of antioxidants. These supplements claim to provide as much antioxidant in a couple of pills as you would get if you ate half a kilo of fruit and so this route is probably the most realistic for most of us.
As you will have realised, antioxidants and free radicals play an important role in the aging process. It’s important that we consume enough antioxidants in order to neutralise the free radicals. For the majority of us who don’t have the time to eat as much fruit, vegetables, and nuts as we should, the supplement is our only realistic option of getting enough antioxidants into our bodies.
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