Antioxidants: The Basics

by Stacey Parla

Have you ever seen a cut-up apple turn brown? The reason behind this change is a chemical reaction called oxidation. Oxidation reactions naturally occur in our bodies but excessive oxidation can lead to oxidative stress which can damage cell membranes and lead to the pre-mature aging of cells.

During oxidation reactions we produce free radicals. Free radicals are unstable compounds that can interfere with a normal cell’s ability to function. In addition to being naturally produced in our bodies, free radicals can be caused by external factors such as pollution, smoking, and even the sun.

Free radicals are destructive compounds, but we have ways to combat them—that’s where antioxidants come in. As the name implies, antioxidants help fight free radicals and assist in maintaining good health. Read on to learn more about how this complex system works and where we can get the antioxidants we need.

How it Works

It’s easy to picture many of the functions that occur in our body, especially the ones that involve our major muscles and certain organs. But our incredible body is also firing away at the cellular level, which is where antioxidants are working.

During the metabolic process our body converts food into energy. Free radicals are natural byproducts of this necessary process. These highly unstable compounds with unshared electrons are often formed by the interaction of oxygen with other molecules. They can cause a disruptive chain reaction with other compounds that ultimately disturbs the normal operations of a cell.

excessive oxidation can lead to oxidative stress which can damage cell membranes and lead to the pre-mature aging of cells

The job of an antioxidant is to help neutralize free radicals, keeping the body functioning the way it should. In this way, antioxidants help to counter the destructive nature of free radicals and assist in maintaining good health.

What You Can Do

The good news is that antioxidants aren’t hard to find. They are readily available in healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables. When your doctor encourages you to “eat the rainbow” that’s in part because different fruits and vegetables contain different types of antioxidants—and the goodness lies in those vibrant colors. If you’re looking for more support, here are some of the most popular antioxidant supplements.

Lycopene

Lycopene is a naturally occurring red and pink pigment found in plants such as tomatoes and watermelon that are ripe with antioxidant properties.** Studies show that Lycopene is one of the major carotenoids in the prostate gland. Beyond its antioxidant benefits, Lycopene also helps maintain a healthy heart, supports prostate health and plays a role in maintaining good health.**

Resveratrol

A glass of red wine or a piece of dark chocolate is deemed to be a good-for-you indulgence, and that’s because they both contain an antioxidant called Resveratrol. Resveratrol not only helps fight free radicals, but it also supports sugar metabolism.** With Puritan’s Pride Resveratrol supplements, you often get more Resveratrol than you would from regular dietary sources, giving you extra antioxidant support you can feel good about.**

A glass of red wine or a piece of dark chocolate is deemed to be a good-for-you indulgence, and that’s because they both contain an antioxidant called Resveratrol.

Pycnogenol

Les Landes de Gascogne forest in southwestern France is home to a special species of pine trees whose bark is filled with goodness. From that bark comes Pycnogenol®, an extract with antioxidant properties.** Pycnogenol® is a complex of naturally-occurring flavonoids that also support a healthy heart and blood circulation.** Additionally, it promotes joint health and comfort.**

Grapeseed

The skin and seeds of grapes are not only a source of antioxidants, but they also can have a positive effect on heart health.** Puritan’s Pride red grapeseed extract contains biologically active flavonoids called oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC), which help fight cell-damaging free radicals.**

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