Antioxidants are chemicals that interfere with oxidation, causing an atom or molecule to lose some electrons due to a chemical reaction.
antioxidants are found in food items in order to protect biological molecules from this potentially harmful activity. These substances include vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin E, trace elements such as selenium and zinc, and other common plant compounds such as lycopene and flavonoids.
A diet that combines a high amount of fruit, nuts, vegetables, and mushrooms should contain adequate antioxidants to safeguard our cellular systems against oxidative stress.
How does oxidation harm our bodies?
When an electron is stolen from an important biochemical structure, such as a base in a genetic code or amino acids which form proteins, oxidative damage occurs.
Simple changes to DNA can transform a base into something different, altering its behavior so it no longer spells out the same sequence. Changing parts of a protein might reduce chances of breaking down, potentially allowing them to accumulate into toxic debris. They may also reduce their lifetime or making them less proficient in performing their tasks.
While our bodies have repair mechanisms that may be useful for these profound changes, as we age, the problems can pile up. Mutations become missed, protein groups build, and the risk of cancer or even neurodegenerative illnesses like Parkinson''s increase.
oxidative stress may even be beneficial to the ageing habits we all take for granted. Hair and wrinkles might be impossible to avoid, but may not be aided by chemical processes that sweep in and steal a few electrons here and there.
What causes oxidative stress?
A variety of chemical substances are naturally produced by our bodies as a result of typical metabolic processes. These include reactive oxygen species such as hydrogen peroxide, which is both destructive and in some instances a useful signalling molecule.
Our bodies also produce enzymes that have antioxidant properties, like the superoxide dismutase. Such enzymes keep the free radicals we produce in check, either by quickly repurposing lost electrons or mopping up radicals before they can cause damage.
Our environment may be a source of free radicals, although absorption pollutants, including cigarette smoke and toxic metals, can''t only drain our bodies'' home-grown defenses, but cause further damage to our organs.
Do you need antioxidant supplements?
Our body is as well prepared to keep an eye on oxidative stress as it may be between our own enzymes and the antioxidants we use in our diet.
However, adding more antioxidants to the mix isn''t the solution we might envision. For one thing, a willingness to provide additional electron donors does not necessarily rebalance electron thefts. However, studies have shown no sign that antioxidant supplements might reduce the likelihood of poor health or combat aging.
Evidence may be in the right direction if anything. A 2007 metastudie into randomized trials found a slight increase in mortality among individuals who took advantage of antioxidant supplements.
Further research is needed to determine why additional antioxidants appear to be inadequate in order to reduce body oxidative stress and what may be.
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