Antioxidant Vitamins and Disease Prevention
Fact or Fiction?
Today, we hear a lot about a damaging process called "oxidation" and the need for "antioxidant vitamins". But what are antioxidant vitamins? And are they really that important to you? Lets take a closer look at the role and behavior of oxygen within your body to understand the answer.
Oxygen's Beneficial Role
We naturally think of oxygen as a beneficial molecule... in fact, life is based on oxygen. The production of energy from food for everyday activities like walking, running, lifting etc. all depend upon the presence and normal metabolism of oxygen within our bodies.
Oxygen's Darker Side
But oxygen's essential role in metabolism has a dark side. Oxygen, by nature, has an affinity to pick-up electrons - negatively charged particles. This is normally a good thing and required by metabolism. But oxygen is highly unstable and reactive when it gains an extra electron and can veer off course... outside the normal pathway of life.
This negatively charged oxygen molecule, called a "free radical", creates physiological havoc... snatching electrons from any nearby molecule and destroying their natural function in your body. If this destructive electron snatching process, called oxidation, is not stopped, a vicious runaway chain reaction takes place.
What Really is Aging? How Does Disease Begin?
"The Free Radical Theory"
Premature aging and many diseases may actually be the result of out of control free radical attacks to your body. For example...
Your proteins, DNA (hereditary material) and especially lipids (fatty acids) are the targets of free radical attacks:
"Free Radical Genetic damage to DNA May be the Source of Several Cancers."
"Free radical Attacks to Your "Bad" LDL Cholesterol may Actually be the Real Genesis of Artheroscelotic Plaques Leading to Heart Disease"
"Free Radical Attacks to Lipids Within Cell Membranes Also Leads to Membrane Damage and Mutations that Contribute to Aging and even Produce Cell Death"
" Free Radical Damage to Lipids Within Cell Membranes Disrupts Membrane Permeability. This jeopardizes Vital Nutrient Transport Into and Out of Cells."
Even chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis are strongly linked to free radical damage. Overtime, the cumulative assault of free radicals causes slow degeneration of structure and function of your body... the process we call aging.
How are Free Radicals Formed?
Today, our modern world is literally a free radical generator. The polluted air we breath, cigarette smoke, ultra-violet light, chlorinated hydrocarbons and even normal metabolism within our bodies initiate formation of thousands of these molecular "buzz bombs" within you body every day. And you do want to stop these destructive buzz bombs, right? :-)
Reverse the Damage
Stop Free Radicals in Their Tracks
Reducing free radical damage is your single, most powerful weapon against pre-mature aging and chronic disease. And its easy once you know how! Your body has inherent defense mechanisms protecting you from free radical damage. Natural dietary antioxidant vitamins and minerals are your cells first line of defense. Heres how they do it...
Vitamins E, C, A and beta-carotene protect you by actually donating their own electrons to the electron-starved free radial. This "neutralizes" the free radical and stops destructive chain reactions in their tracks. Antioxidant vitamins are free radical traps, sacrificing their own electrons to the free radical instead of allowing the free radical to denature your own proteins, DNA and lipids.
Protect Your Cell Membranes, Skin and Organs
Experience Total Antioxidant Protection
Complete cellular antioxidant protection is achieved through a wide spectrum of various antioxidant vitamins and minerals within the cell. Antioxidant vitamins, A, E and beta-carotene are fat-soluble and reside in the fatty protective barrier of the cell, the cell membrane.
And the cell membrane is the cell 1st line of defense against invading free radicals. Here vitamins A, E and beta-carotene intercept and neutralize free radical attempting to gain access via the cell membrane. Ectodermal tissue like your skin, oral cavities and GI tract are especially well protected by vitamins A and beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene, the pro-vitamin giving carrots, cantaloupes and squash their distinctive orange hue, has a unique activity not shared by other antioxidants - it neutralizes free radicals formed in the skin by ultraviolet light.
In sharp contrast... vitamin C is a water-soluble and complements the fat-soluble antioxidant vitamins by protecting the watery interior or "intracellular" regions of the cell.
Vitamin C also guards regions outside of the cell (extracellular), especially the epithelial surface of the lung. Here, inhaled free radicals generated from smoke, oxygen and ozone are neutralized by vitamin C. Vitamin C even protects your organs from the oxidative damage of drugs, chlorinated hydrocarbons and peroxides.
Antioxidant Vitamins C and E
Powerful "Synergistic" Effects
Together, the combined effects of vitamin C and E tremendously enhance your antioxidant protection. Like a ballistic missile within the cell wall, vitamin E intercepts destructive electron-seeking free radicals seeking access to the cell and neutralizes them by donating its own electron. Now vitamin C, residing within the watery interior of the cell actually restores vitamin E by donating its own electron to vitamin E. This "sparing" effect of vitamin C, rejuvenates vitamin E and greatly improve your antioxidant protection - an excellent example of "synergy".
In fact, this beneficial synergy is lost if your dietary intake of vitamin E is deficient. Specifically, deficiency of vitamin E leads to a decrease of vitamin C within the cell and an increase in cellular degradation products like ethane, pentane, maloaldehyde and lipofusion pigments.
Antioxidant Enzymes and Minerals
Also Keep You Healthy
Antioxidant enzymes within the cell cytoplasm and organelles also protect the cell components from oxidative damage due to free radicals. These enzymes, including "superoxide dimutase", "glutathione peroxidase" and "catalase" depend upon several minerals for biological function - copper, zinc, manganese, iron and selenium are vital cofactors. Dietary deficiency of any of these minerals can reduce your antioxidant protection.
Together, the antioxidant vitamins, minerals and enzymes are called the "antioxidant defense system of cells". How does all this relate to your health?
Well, your benefit-risk ratio for chronic disease may shift by improving your intake of antioxidant nutrients and reducing your exposure to oxidative exposure. Specifically, without sufficient antioxidant vitamins and minerals, excessive oxidative stress (cigarette smoke, pollution, etc.) promotes build-up of toxic oxidative products that damages sensitive biological tissues and increases deterioration of function.
This "free radical concept of disease" dramatically affects the way we:
1) Look at how disease starts (excessive oxidative stress) and even more importantly...
2)What we can do to prevent or reverse it. Its true, abundant intake of antioxidant vitamins and minerals can improve your antioxidant status and reduce your risk of many health challenges.
If you want to improve your resistance to disease and premature aging, increase your dietary intake of fruits and vegetables.
And if you want a higher level of antioxidant protection, consider a complete or "full spectrum" nutritional supplement providing proper levels and balanced proportions of all the vitamins and minerals.
Questions? Comments? Are you looking for a high quality antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplement? Please contact me, Tom Jungman @ 408.396.7752 or e-mail me at...
I will be happy to assist with your needs. :-)