Sunday, April 20, 2008

The What and Why Of Antioxidants

By Brenda Hoffman

More than likely you have heard the term "antioxidant" by now. However, do you know what it is, why you need it or how you get it? Probably not. So, herein what you need to know about antioxidants will be explained.

The first thing that you need to know about in order to understand antioxidants is the process of oxidation. This is a fundamental and necessary biomechanical reaction. Not all forms of this process are helpful though. There are some that forms that happen at the wrong time and are thus disastrous to your health. However, antioxidants can be a big help in helping positive oxidation to occur so that you will have sustained, good health.

Antioxidants also play a key role in keeping the proteins in your cell membranes from being damaged. These proteins are large, complex and specialized molecules. They control the functions of important cell membranes, which are the basic defense system that lets nutrients in, sends waste products out and prevents entry of toxic and viral invaders. As such, they are actually responsible for immune responses. However, oxidation interferes with this process by splitting up the molecules and thus destroying it. Fatty acids can also be destroyed in this way.

It is important to understand that you can also come into contact with the oxidation process outside of your body. Sources for this include exposure to radiation, air pollution, synthetic hormones in food, pesticides, over-the-counter and prescription drugs and food additives. Of course, some of these things are things that you cannot easily avoid. This is why it is important to make sure that your body has plenty of antioxidants, which enable good oxidation to take place.

You can find antioxidants in really green, fast growing plants. This is because sunlight, which is a high-energy source, drives the photosynthesis process. In effect, photosynthesis is the opposite of oxidation. So, plants contain a large supply of antioxidants so that they can be protected from the dangers that sunlight can cause. It is these antioxidants that you will want to consume.

Some of the other great places wherein you can find antioxidants include immature barley and wheat grasses. Zinc also has a lot of antioxidant power, which is why it is used so much during the cold and flu season.

It is also a good idea to avoid partially hydrogenated foods whenever possible. This can be found in processed foods, air pollution and medications. A great way in which to counteract this is by drinking green tea, which has a lot of antioxidant power.

Furthermore, if all else fails, you can take specific vitamins so that you get more antioxidants. One of the best ones that I have found is Shaklee's Glucose Regulation Complex. This "food supplement," as Shaklee prefers to call their vitamins, contains both Zinc and antioxidants. As an added benefit, this is a good choice for diabetics who would like to get off of their glucose products. However, you should contact your doctor before starting it.

So, now that you understand just how important antioxidants are and where they can be found, you can start helping your body out by taking more of them. Here's to your good health!

Brenda Marie Hoffman is a published freelance author and a single mom. Thanks to her lucrative business: she is able to stay home to homeschool her daughter.

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