To properly understand what antioxidants are, we first need to understand a little something about free radicals and oxidative stress.
Oxygen in our bodies often separates into single atoms that have unpaired electrons. These atoms are called free radicals. Electrons need to be in pairs to function properly, so free radicals go rampaging through our bodies in search of electrons to pair with. This results in damage to our DNA, cells, and proteins called oxidative stress or oxidative damage.
Free radicals are created through reaction to various pressures and can be generated through substances in medicine, food, water, cigarette smoke, excessive alcohol intake, infections, and pollution in the air. They are associated with several diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and others.
Antioxidants are a substance that can be found in both natural and artificial sources and they work to protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
How do they work?
Some antioxidants are produced naturally by the body and act as a natural defence against free radicals. There are also a whole lot of antioxidants that can be found in foods, namely fruit, and vegetables. There are also a few vitamins, like vitamins C and E, which are great antioxidants.
Our bodies need a balance of free radicals and antioxidants, and when the scales tip in favour of the free radicals it results in oxidative stress which can damage our bodies and sometimes even lead to the death of cells.
What conditions are they good for?
The use of antioxidant supplements can help shield our bodies from the long term effects of oxidative stress, which can result in significant damage and serious conditions. A few of these conditions include diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, inflammatory disorders, cardiovascular conditions like a stroke or high blood pressure, chronic fatigue syndrome, asthma, and male infertility.
A healthy daily intake of antioxidants through supplementation can help you avoid these symptoms and keep your immune system intact.