By on June 13, 2015

Recently in our quest for living healthy day-by-day, we looked at phytonutrients: which are biologically active substances capable of protecting us from various diseases.

Today we are looking at antioxidants, Vitamins, and Minerals. This is going to be divided into parts……let’s go.

We all fall sick because of the action of diseases causing substances called free radicals in our body. As their name connotes, free radicals are free harm causing agents which move about and combine with other substances in our body causing cell damage.

In scientific terms, free radicals are atoms with unpaired electrons which combine with other atoms forming a chain reaction of cell damage.

Free radicals are the cause of all diseases, as these diseases are produced they in turn produce more cell damaging free radicals thus leading to a multiplication of these bad agents in the body, diseases such as cancers, coronary artery diseases, asthma, lupus, colitis, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, colds, flu, bladder and yeast infections create tremendous amounts of free radicals.

Free radicals are also produced as a by-product of the process of respiration. As we breathe per time, free radicals are produced. Free radicals are produced in their millions.

Our present way of life is a killing machine in itself as a lot of dead foods and chemicals we take and expose ourselves to help our bodies in producing these radicals.

Eating dead foods such as unhealthy fats, highly processed foods, sauces to name few are laced with chemicals and pesticides produces excessive free radicals in our system that cause diseases which creates more free radicals. The process is a continuous and never ending process.

Restricting these free radicals ought to be a goal we all pursue day by day, as sound health is the best gift you can give yourself. The only way to take care of these radicals and stop them from causing us harm is Antioxidants.

Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Antioxidants are a class of molecules that are capable of inhibiting the oxidation of free radicals.

Your body naturally circulates various nutrients due to their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are so capable to neutralize these free radicals in our bodies. Antioxidants help us quench the fire of free radicals in our bodies if we supply them.

As we have different free radicals in their numbers, we need numerous antioxidants from a lot of sources to conquer them. Arming our bodies with the right antioxidants through the intake of supplements is very essential in fortifying our bodies.

Some antioxidants are produced by your body, but some are not. Your body's natural antioxidant production can decline with age. The way to acquire a lot of these antioxidants is to take a lot of supplements by eating foods that produce a wide variety of antioxidants.

Making antioxidants a part of our everyday diet is very important.

In June 2004 issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, the antioxidant capability of more than 100 foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, spices, cereals and other foods were analyzed through the process Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC).

It was discovered that processing have a significant effect on the ORAC of a particular food, permit me to note that over processed food is not good for your health.

The leading food on the chart discovered to be effective antioxidant foods are listed in decreasing order –Mexican Red beans, wild blueberries, red kidney beans, pinto beans, cultivated blueberries, cranberries, artichokes, blackberries, prunes and raspberries are the leading ten.

From the list above, it is recommended to know the source of what you are consuming as all these are wild or produced organically, and not those laden with chemicals, is good to consume your food as close as possible to nature.

Strawberries, red delicious apples, granny smith apples, pecans, cherries, black plums, russet potatoes, black beans, red plums and gala apples made the next ten on the list.

It is important to consume a wide variety antioxidants to provide you with optimal benefits. No matter how remote your place of residence is, you can get most of these foods in your environment.

Importance of antioxidants

Antioxidants are electron donors, they break the free radical chain reaction by contributing their own electrons to combine with free radicals, but without turning into free radicals themselves. They are the way the body defend itself against free radicals, resisting diseases in the process.

They provide the necessary defense mechanism for the body to resist aging caused by everyday exposure to pollutants and chemicals, preventing tissue and cellular damage. Thereby improving skin health.

Antioxidants help repair damaged molecules. Some unique types of antioxidants repair damaged molecules like the DNA by donating a hydrogen atom. Antioxidants such as flavonoids   provide a shielding effect by attaching themselves to the DNA to protect it from free radicals attacks.

They block metal radical production by combining and rendering inactive toxic metals like mercury and arsenic, which can cause free radical formation, and stay joined to them so strongly to prevent any chemical reaction from taking place.

Water-soluble chelating agents also push toxic metals out of your body through urine.

They stimulate and cause genes to function their normal way by equipping them to be more agile and build their defense capacity.

They promote cancer cells to die as they provide anti-cancer chemicals that halt cancer growth and force some cancer cells to self-destruct.

Types of antioxidants

By solubility

Lipid-soluble antioxidants are the ones that protect your cell membranes from lipid peroxidation- oxidation to the greatest possible extent resulting especially in formation of a peroxide.

They are located in the cell membranes. Some examples are vitamins A and E, carotenoids, and lipoic acid.

Water-soluble antioxidants are found in aqueous fluids, such as the blood and the fluids within and around cells. Some examples of water-soluble antioxidants are vitamin C, polyphenols, and glutathione.

By mode of action on free radicals

Enzymatic antioxidants flush out dangerous oxidative products by converting them into hydrogen peroxide, turning them into water. This is done through a multi-step process that requires a number of trace metal such as zinc, copper, manganese, and iron cofactors.

Enzymatic antioxidants are only produced in the body.

Some enzymatic antioxidants break down higher oxides into hydrogen peroxide and oxygen with the help of Copper, Zinc, Manganese, and Iron, these are called Superoxide dismutase.

Catalase is another type of enzymatic antioxidant which converts hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen using Iron and Manganese cofactors.

Non-enzymatic antioxidants benefit the body by interrupting free radical chain reactions. Some examples are carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, plant polyphenols, and glutathione.

Most antioxidants found in supplements and foods are non-enzymatic, and they provide support to enzymatic antioxidants by disarming the free radicals first, Thereby preventing enzymatic antioxidants from being depleted.

By molecular size

Small-molecule antioxidants work by getting rid of the reactive oxygen species, carrying them away through chemical neutralization. Vitamins C and E, glutathione, lipoic acid, carotenoids, and CoQ10 are examples.

Large-protein antioxidants absorb reactive oxygen species and prevent them from attacking essential proteins. Albumin for example gets attacked in place of special enzymes and DNA.

Important antioxidants

Those that can be produced inside the body

Glutathione is said to be the most powerful antioxidant which is found in all cells of the body, it has the ability to maximize the performance of all the other antioxidants by providing a favorable environments for them to function. They protect cells and mitochondria from undergoing oxidative and peroxidative damage. They promote detoxification process, energy utilization, and preventing aging. These can only be produced by the body, and the rate of production decreases with age. However, a lot of nutrients promote its production such as whey protein, curcumin, dairy, eggs, and grass-fed meat.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) helps to modify gene expression to reduce inflammation and enhance insulin sensitivity among others. It is easily transported into the brain offering a lot of benefits for people with brain disease e.g. Alzheimer’s disease. It help regenerate other bodies that may have been used up by the body.

Ubiquinone in its reduced form-Ubiquinol helps produce more energy for the cells, support and promote heart health, the immune system, and nervous system. It protect the skin form aging, and help maintain blood pressure level.

These can’t be produced by the body but most be acquired from antioxidant rich foods or supplements

Resveratrol is found in fruits like grapes, vegetables, cocoa and red wine, it protects the brain and nervous helps in fighting aging related diseases, cancer-prostrate, lower blood pressure, keep the heart healthy, and improve elasticity of blood vessels. It also helps to keep normal anti-inflammatory response.

Carotenoids are of two types-the oxygen deficient atoms are called Carotenes. An example is lycopene an antioxidant found in tomatoes. Beta-carotene is found in oranges and carrots, it is converted to Vitamin A in the body.

The other type of carotene is called Xanthophylls and they contain oxygen atoms on their own. Examples are lutein, Canthhaxanthin, Zeaxanthin and Astaxanhtin. Zeaxanthin is the most common and found in pepper, kiwi, grapes, squash and oranges.

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, but has a lot of nutritional advantage. Astaxanthin is a marine carotenoid produced by Haematococcus pluvialis-a microalgae a microalgae when its water supply dries up, to give itself protection from ultraviolet radiation. The wild Alaskan red salmon is a great supports the immune system to function properly, protects the eyes from cataracts, macular degeneration and blindness. It protects the brain from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It reduces the risk of different types of cancer among others.

Other antioxidants are Vitamins A and E.

The Most Important Vitamins and Minerals You Need today!
This is what your body benefits when you take lemon!

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