Free radicals, anti-oxidants, carotenoid. These words may be more like Greek to some of you. But they are becoming more common in the area of nutritional health. However, it doesn't do much good if you don't have a clue as to what exactly it all means.
I don't want to get into a bunch of scientific, chemistry mumbo jumbo, so I'm going to try and put this in terms even I can understand.
First, 'free-radicals'. A free radical is an atom or group of atoms that contain at least one unpaired electron. An electron is a subatomic particle. We all have these in our bodies, we're supposed to have small quantities of them. However, due to poor health, poor environment and bio-hazards that we all come into contact with daily, the number of 'bad' free radicals is mounting.
The 'good' free radicals are produced by the immune system to fight off viruses and such. They also are involved in producing hormones and activating enzymes that we need for life.
When there is a high level of free radicals in the body, a lot of damage can happen. It's been shown that this high level can alter the way the cells code genetic material. It produces mutated proteins which damages and weakens the immune system. Which makes room for cancer and other deadly diseases.
Research has shown that high levels of free radicals also promotes faster aging. They also damage the protective cell membranes, which causes the reproduction of damaged cells. It's a vicious cycle!
What's the remedy? Ah, that's where anti-oxidants come in. Oxidation is the process in which electrons are lost. Kind of like when the paint on your car oxidizes. It's the effect of oxygen coming into contact with the compound or element.
Anti-oxidants neutralize the free radicals-stopping the process dead in it's tracks. We get antioxidants from many food products; grains, fruits and veggies. But, when we don't have the proper diet to begin with, it's harder to get the substantial amount of antioxidants to protect us. That's why there are so many antioxidant formulas on the market now.
It's been shown that it's better to take smaller doses of several different antioxidant than one huge amount containing only one kind. Antioxidants are carotenoid.
Carotenoid are a class of phytochemicals, fat soluble pigments found in yellow, red, green and orange fruits and veggies. You may have heard of beta-carotene, lycopene, alpha-carotene? Those are the elements found highly in tomatoes, carrots, spinach, bell peppers and such.
When you can't get the natural carotenoid from foods-or even if you do eat these kinds of foods-supplements should be taken. Such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Zinc. There are countless combination antioxidant supplements available-be sure to check that the top four on the list are vitamins A,C,E and Zinc!
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