Anti-Oxidants... What Are they?
Every single one of our trillions of cells suffers about
10,000 free radical hits daily!
- Bruce Ames, Ph.D. at University of California,
Berkeley estimates that
You may have heard about
the health benefits of antioxidants, but do you know
what an antioxidant is -- and how they actually work?
The simple answer is that
antioxidants are substances that protect our cells from
oxidation (by free radicals).
Antioxidants are dietary
substances including some nutrients such as beta
carotene, vitamins C and E and selenium, that can
prevent damage to your body cells or repair damage
that has been done. Another,
glutathione (the "master antioxidant"), is
manufactured by our own bodies.
Antioxidants work by
significantly slowing or preventing the oxidative -- or
damage from oxygen -- process caused by free radicals
that can lead to cell dysfunction and the onset of
problems like heart disease and diabetes. Antioxidants
also improve immune function and perhaps lower your risk
for infection and cancer.
reactions are crucial for life, they can also be
animals maintain complex systems of
multiple types of antioxidants, such as glutathione,
vitamin C, and
vitamin E as well as
enzymes such as
superoxide dismutase and various
peroxidases. Low levels of
inhibition of the antioxidant enzymes,
oxidative stress and may damage or
In your body, the
antioxidant process is similar to stopping an apple
from browning. Once you cut an apple, it begins to
brown, but if you dip it in orange juice, which
contains vitamin C, it stays white.
A little Chemistry
Let's look at what
free radicals are. Molecules are composed of atoms
bonded together, via the sharing of electrons.
Generally, atoms exist in pairs, with each electron
of the pair having an opposite spin to the other.
When a molecule is split, two things can happen.
First, the electrons can stay together. When this
happens, we say the molecule has ionized. For
example, table salt, which is Sodium Chloride (NaCl),
ionizes into two charged ions, specifically a sodium
ion and a chloride ion. In this case, the Chloride
received the electron pair, and the Sodium lost it.
The other thing that can happen is that the electron
pair is split. This leaves a highly reactive atom
(a free radical), seeking to steal an electron,
which sets up a domino effect of electron stealing.
Antioxidants work by offering easy electron
targets for free radicals.
Each time you are
confronted by the threats in the outer circle of the
diagram free radicals are released. The natural
reserve of glutathione in the body breaks down under
the assault. The effects of oxidative stress are so
critical in fact that a new field of medical science
has emerged, called 'Free Radical Biology' which
studies the long list of diseases caused by it.
Today it is known that antioxidants help diminish
cell damage, slows the harmful effects of aging and
lessens the threat of disease. Oxidative stress can
be minimized by raising intracellular GSH levels.
If the free radical is
not neutralized by an antioxidant it can wreak all
sorts of havoc in our bodies. Current research, for
example, is pointing to the fact that it is not only
the presence of fat in our bodies that leads to
plaque formation on our arteries, but the oxidation
of fat by free radicals. With cancer, the problem
starts when free radicals chip away at the DNA of
our cells, eventually causing mutations that lead to
provided by vitamins work because they can
donate electrons to free radicals, thus
neutralizing them. However, this makes the
vitamin molecule unstable, and now it needs an
electron. This is sort of like passing a very
hot potato from person to person until someone
finds a place to lay it down. In our bodies,
that place is glutathione.
chemical equation gets fairly technical, but
in the end glutathione donates an electron
and becomes a stable molecule known as GSH.
Glutathione can then be regenerated via an
enzymatic pathway that involves lipoic acid. The
details of the chemistry involved is beyond the
scope of this page, but is well established in
the scientific literature. Also well established
is the fact that the glutathione antioxidant
system is the most important system in our
bodies when it comes to the destruction of
reactive oxygen compounds (very potent free
radicals). (Meister, 1994)
Glutathione is often referred to as GSH.
Enhancement of Immune Function|
Elimination of Toxins
Elimination of Carcinogens|
Antioxidant Cell Protection
Protection against Ionizing
DNA Synthesis and Repair|
Amino Acid Transport
Amino Acid Transport
Enzyme Activity and Regulation
know... antioxidants are important to a
healthy lifestyle and LONG life!
Here's some OUR favorite antioxidants sources...
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Glutathione is your body's master antioxidant and one of
the most important cleansing and healing agents.
Glutathione blocks free radical damage and
helps to recycle Vitamins E and C, therefore plays a key
role in their function. Because
Glutathione exists within the cells, it is in a
prime position to neutralize free radicals. The highest
concentration of glutathione is found in the liver which
is the principal organ involved in the detoxification
and elimination of toxic materials.
Glutathione may also help with detoxification
by binding to toxins such as heavy metals, solvents and
pesticides, allowing them to be excreted in urine or
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