There is a lot of talk these days about free radicals and antioxidants. So what exactly are free radicals? What do they mean to you and your health? Free radicals are natural compounds that occur in the environment and are formed in the body. They are very unstable compounds because they tend to carry a lot of expendable energy. When a free radical reduces or releases their energy into the body, they effectively interfere with certain cells in the body, by reacting with the natural chemicals in the body.
When free radicals interact with the chemicals in the body, they will also interfere with normal cell functioning and can lead to a wide variety of problems in the body. In fact, free radicals have been associated with at least sixty different health conditions, ranging from wrinkles and premature aging to more serious conditions such as cancer.
So where do free radicals come from? Well the answer may surprise you. Free radical occur naturally in the body during metabolism, however many other free radicals enter the body through other, external sources. Some of the common sources of free radicals are: industry pollution, excess sun exposure, cosmic rays, x-rays, heavy metals, ozone, car exhaust, cigarette smoke, alcohol and chemical compounds.
Free radicals have been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, premature aging and wrinkles and many other diseases.
Is there anything to be done against free radicals? There is a defense from free radical damage, and they are called antioxidants. Typically your body can handle the free radicals in the body, however if there are not enough antioxidants available, your body will have trouble fighting off the free radicals and suffer the damages.
It is very important to your overall health to lower your exposure to free radical sources while increasing your antioxidant sources in order to defend your body against the damage that can occur.
While medical opinions vary on the importance of antioxidants in extending life and bettering the quality of life, it is a healthy practice to ensure that your body receives enough antioxidants. It is important to eat your fruits and vegetables in order to receive enough antioxidants in the body. The best supplements and vitamins for antioxidants are manganese, zinc, copper, and selenium. Some other vitamins that are antioxidant rich are vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, Vitamin B2, and coenzyme Q10. Most of these vitamins can be found in a healthy diet that is rich in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.