Antioxidant Vitamins: Fighting Free Radicals And Disease

Antioxidant vitamins are a vital component when the human body battles free radicals and disease. Antioxidants are necessary for us to maintain healthier, longer lives.

Antioxidant vitamins play crucial, beneficial roles in the prevention of disease, aging, and the battle against free radicals. Free radicals are the molecules within our bodies responsible for the progression of aging and deterioration. These precarious molecules form through oxidation, the same process that enables your car to rust and your food to spoil. Oxygen molecules lose an electron during their exchanges with other molecules, causing them to become free radicals. These damaged molecules, in turn, try to mend themselves by robbing electrons from other healthy molecules. This process generates more free radicals, contributing to many major ailments and aging. With every breath of air our lungs take in, more free radicals are created. As they search for ways to repair themselves, free radicals damage our cells to a staggering extent.

The majority of free radicals are created inside our own bodies. When our bodies produce energy, all of our cells convert the oxygen we breathe into water. However, a small percentage of the oxygen tends to escape and turn into free radicals. In turn, our immune system attempts to fight off these unwelcome trespassers. It sends out white blood cells, which produce more free radicals to destroy the microbes formed. Not only do these newly formed cells kill the unfamiliar germs, but they also damage healthy cells in the process. Unfortunately, our environment escalates free radical damage by exposing us to toxins. Cigarette smoke, fuel exhaust, radiation, chemicals, and ultraviolet light all lend a helping hand to the overwhelming amount of free radicals our bodies will develop.

Free radicals are tremendously volatile molecules. When they are in the company of oxygen, they merge haphazardly with unsaturated fats to form peroxides. These peroxides cause grave, irreversible destruction to cells and the protective membrane linings that surround them. This damage accumulates over the years, attacking various portions of the human body. Cardiovascular disease, cancers, visual ailments, premature aging, and respiratory disorders are all examples of the horrific devastation free radicals can cause. Some scientists also believe that neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, may be the by-product of free radicals. The belief is that free radicals harm the barrier responsible for shielding the brain against alien intruders, like viruses. Struggling to repair the injured area, the immune system franticly produces more free radicals, possibly causing damage leading to these neurological diseases. Free radicals are not usually thought to be the culprit involved in instigating a disease. Rather, more often than not, the free radicals formed by the disease itself allow the irreversible damage to advance.



Since oxygen has such a hazardous effect on the human body, how is it that we survive? Fortunately, our bodies also produce antioxidant vitamins and enzymes that protect us from the destructiveness of free radicals. Antioxidants actually station themselves between free radicals and the body's healthy cells. They present their own electrons to the free radicals, stabilizing them in the process. This natural procedure prohibits free radicals from performing any additional harm. One antioxidant molecule can pursue only one free radical. As long as there is an adequate supply of antioxidants, free radicals will be immediately entrapped and prohibited from damaging healthy body tissue. However, the body can easily become overloaded with free radicals, producing them in such an overabundance that its antioxidants find it difficult to fend them off. Depending on diet, environment, and overall state of health, antioxidant stores need to be sustained in order to avoid free radical damage and illness.

Consuming a diet plentiful in natural antioxidants, predominantly vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and the trace mineral selenium, is the best defense to combat cellular destruction. Plant-based diets, full of fruits and vegetables, contain several compounds capable of combating free radical formations. These compounds are known as carotenoids and have been shown to reduce macular degeneration, when consumed daily in sizeable quantities. Adding a daily supplement or supplements may also be of tremendous benefit to thwart disease. Not only can supplements allow you to get the nutrients your body may be lacking, but make you even healthier if you are already fit.

When supplementing a healthy diet, increasing the percentage of the Daily Values may be vital. Although Daily Values are suggested by the federal Food and Nutrition Board to inhibit deficiencies, a higher dosage may be crucial to have a positive influence in the prevention of illness. Remember, free radicals are produced in vast quantities each and every day of our lives. The amount of antioxidants our bodies require to prevent their damage may be much higher than recommended by the Daily Values.

Both vitamins C and E show very apparent effects protecting the human body from free radicals and disease. These super vitamins have been shown to have positive effects on tumors activated by ultraviolet light. They play key roles in building the bodies natural immunity to deter disease and foreign microorganisms. Vitamin C has antiviral abilities as well as being able to hinder the oxidative conversion of nitrate additives into cancer-causing matter, known as nitrosamines. Taking two to four times the recommended amount of vitamin C is suggested to receive the utmost protection. Evidence from studies indicates that higher amounts of vitamin C have enhanced immunity, decreased cancer risks, improved lung performance, and lowered the risks of heart disease and optical ailments. In order to make vitamin C more effective, it should be taken in combination with vitamin E.

Vitamin E is the powerhouse of antioxidant vitamins, lessening the possibility of health problems dramatically. Some scientists actually believe it can add 5-15 more years of life to the normal person. Vitamin E has intense antioxidant properties and demonstrates a protective effect against mercury, radiation, ozone, air pollution, and aging. Like vitamin C, this wonder vitamin is believed to aid in the prevention of disease caused in part by free radicals. Vitamin E prevents and disperses blood clots and provides the blood with oxygen, furnishing sustenance to our cells. It is remarkably valuable when combating heart disease, possessing behaviors that reinforce capillary walls and ward off toxins that would otherwise destroy red blood cells. Studies conducted have shown that 300-500 international units of vitamin E should be taken daily to deter heart disease.

Beta-carotene, when taken together with additional defensive compounds, demonstrates properties helpful in preventing numerous disorders. Eating foods that contain elevated concentrations of beta-carotene, like spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, is the best way to incorporate this nutrient into your arsenal. In order to get the maximum protection from beta-carotene's beneficial properties, ingest between 6 and 10 milligrams per day. Selenium, another valuable nutrient, may be responsible in part for boosting the immunity of cancer patients. Selenium levels are likely to fall drastically when a tumor is present. Increasing the intake of this nutrient has proven most beneficial to combat infections during chemotherapy.

Antioxidant vitamins and nutrients appear to provide substantial health benefits when consumed, in the appropriate amounts on a daily basis. Dietary ingestion of these potent, natural antioxidants is by far the best route to ensure their maximum assistance. Supplementation is also suggested in order to reach the most accurate dosage required for the greatest health advantages. Battling free radicals and disease is by no means an easy feat. Becoming well armed with an antioxidant arsenal unquestionably provides our bodies with a much higher chance of maintaining a healthier, longer life.

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