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Antioxidants Comprehensive Supplimentation

By Joseph Serio R.Ph. Registered Pharmacist

We talked about why it's necessary and this month I will go more in-depth as to the reasons why. We discussed the use of a high quality multivitamin and the use of two others vitamins, Vitamin C and E . The reason for the multivitamin is obvious with a country with a 91% nutritional deficiency, but why the C and E? In a single word, oxidation.

To translate into more imaginable terms, it's simply the bodies normal function to rust with age. We're not talking the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz here, but the body naturally gets damaged over it's lifetime by the pollutants and chemicals we're exposed to and even the normal process of breathing in oxygen itself! In fact a simple definition of aging is "damage accumulation".

We now know that the single most powerful way to prevent damage is to slow down the oxidation process and hence the need for antioxidants. To better illustrate lets explore some of the major disease states that oxidation causes. When ultraviolet rays of the sun pass through the lens of the eye over time a clouding of the eye can occur and diminish sight. The disease state as you probably have guessed is cataracts. An article published in the February 1991 issue of The Archives of Ophthalmology stated that "we can diminish the risk of developing cataracts by the use of relatively elevated levels of some of the antioxidant nutrients."

Another disease that is indirectly the leading cause of death in the United States today is arteriosclerosis which resulting in stroke and heart attacks. Antioxidants may lower the risk of heart disease by reducing the oxidation of cholesterol resulting in the reduction in plaque formation on vessel walls. To clarify, levels of circulating cholesterol is not the issue. It is the oxidation of the cholesterol that causes it to become sticky and adhere to cell walls that is. The single most important thing after modification of your diet in cholesterol management is taking antioxidants; in particular vitamin C and E. In fact there is way too great of an emphasis by the pharmaceutical companies in cholesterol lowering pills being the key to disease control, where prevention of oxidation of cholesterol is a much more important (and inexpensive) consideration in the management of arteriosclerosis.

How do antioxidants work you might ask. At the molecular level, antioxidants work to stabilize a class of particles called free radicals. A free radical (not to be confused with a 60's activist) is an unstable atom or molecule that reacts with normal cells and causes damage . The damage in the long run can be irreparable and lead to disease. Free radical activity has been implicated in cancer, heart disease, arthritis, cataracts and arteriosclerosis (mentioned previously) and 100's of other diseases. To give you a simple example of how they work picture an apple cut in half and left to air exposure. In a matter of minutes the surface turns brown. This is an oxidative process (free radical activity).

Now take another apple, cut it, and squeeze the juice of a lemon on it. The apple does not turn brown. This is because of the antioxidant (protective) properties of the lemon and more specifically the Vitamin C in the lemon. This simple example is an illustration of how nutritional products can protect the body in the ravages of everyday existence in a not so pristine planet. Another way of looking at the protective effects of antioxidants is by asking what happens when we greatly increase the level of free radicals in the body? The best way to do it is being done by millions of Americans each day and that is cigarette smoking.

Look at some one who has smoked for 30 years verses someone who hasn't. I would say there you have it. The physiological age of the smoker is in many cases decades older than the non smoker. It is so dramatic that I marvel at the discrepancies in the apparent age of people who smoke verses non smokers. Excessive sun exposure (sun tanning) is another dramatic way to increase free radical damage and is another obvious comparison of what minimizing the oxidative process can do to protect the body and look (and feel) healthier well into the last third of your life.

Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. You should read carefully all product packaging. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.