You are here: Home Disease

What Are Antioxidants?

Posted by SoundHealth on Tuesday, March 15, 2011
© HealthyMuslim. See Terms and Conditions

 Copy Link
   Email    Print 
Antioxidants are powerful chemicals found in naturally occurring in plant foods, like fruit and vegetables. But why are antioxidants so important for health and how do they work?

Antioxidants are chemicals that prevent the process of oxidation. Oxidation is an important chemical reaction involving oxygen. It is an essential part of normal metabolism, whereby nutrients are broken down by the body for energy, growth and repair. But oxidation also leads to the creation of toxic chemicals that can damage and eventually destroy the body's cells.

During oxidation, positively and negatively charged particles are formed, known as 'free radicals'. Within cells, free radicals break down other chemicals such as fats and proteins. This is where antioxidants come in. Chemicals which have an antioxidant effect prevent oxidation by 'mopping up' free radicals. Although our body produces its own supply of antioxidants, levels drop as we age. Environmental factors such as polluted air, water and food, can also increase free radical production and oxidation. Fortunately, many foods contain antioxidants and we can take more in by simply improving our diet.

Vitamins and Minerals

Probably the most well known antioxidants are vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, C, D and E, are particularly important. High levels of these antioxidants have been linked to lowering the risk of, or even preventing virtually every disease from cancer, heart disease and age-related conditions.

Flavonoids are another important group of antioxidants. As well as fruits and vegetables, tea is a good source of flavonoids. It contains a type of flavonoid called catechins, which in particular has been found to stop oxidative damage to genetic material, or DNA. For more information on the diffrent classes of plant chemical (phytonutrients) and antioxidants, see the article Phytonutrients Explained.

The Synergy Effect

Recent research has shown that antioxidants work together to prevent free radical damage. For example, after Vitamin E has neutralized a free radical, it becomes a weak free radical itself. Vitamin C then works on this weakened Vitamin E to recycle it back to normal. Similarly, Vitamin C must then be recycled by a chemical called glutathione. Antioxidants also need help from other nutrients in order to work properly, such as the minerals selenium, copper, magnesium and zinc. This is why a varied, balanced diet is so important.

There is growing evidence that certain antioxidants provide better protection than others against particular diseases. For example, antioxidants are thought to be the first ever treatment to have an effect against a common eye disease called age-related macular degeneration or AMD. Researchers have found that a high dose combination of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Beta-carotene and zinc slows the progression of the disease by about 25%.

An antioxidant called co-enzyme Q10 has been linked to slowing the progression of diseases such as Parkinson's and Huntington's. Scientists believe that co-enzyme Q10 works by improving the function of mitochondria, the 'powerhouses' that produce energy in cells and protect vulnerable areas of the brain.

Increasing your intake of antioxidants is easy - simply eat a range of naturally colorful, fresh foods, including fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and tea.

Link to this article:   Show: HTML LinkFull LinkShort Link
Share or Bookmark this page: You will need to have an account with the selected service in order to post links or bookmark this page.

Subscribe via RSS or email:
Follow us through RSS or email. Click the RSS icon to subscribe to our feed.


Related Articles:
Add a Comment
You must be registered and logged in to comment.
Most Popular

Latest Articles

Popular Subjects
fluoridewater fluoridationcolicfruitexercisetoothpastealmondsmilkpHalkalineacidVitamin Ccancerlinus paulingwatercell phonemobile phoneraw milkaspartamesweetenersuperfoodsbrainlong lifelive longlongevityresveratrolblueberriesraspberriesgreen teaavocadosfatsnutritiondigestion research

Health, fitness and longevity
 Based upon the principles of health
 in the Qur'an and Prophetic Traditions.

There are two bounties in which
most people lose out: good health
and free time. Al-Bukhari.
The information on this site is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind.