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Anti-Oxidant Report

By James Barber M.D.
Cosmetic Surgery Expert
Updated: June 30, 2008
We have all seen anti-oxidants on the news, on the labels of foods and vitamins, and on charts at our doctor's office. With so much exposure, it would be assumed that everyone would have a pretty good understanding of what it is that anti-oxidants do. That, however, is not the case. The general populous takes anti-oxidants because they are "good for you" and they are; but when we begin to understand how and why they are "good", we can make them better.

To understand ant-oxidants we must first understand free radicals. Free radicals are negatively charged oxygen ions created by the mitochondrion, the structure within your cells that creates energy. Because of their negative charge, the free radicals will spend their entire existence looking for another electron to balance themselves out. During this quest, they will bombard every cell and organ in your body, doing a tiny bit of damage. This tiny bit of damage is duplicated millions of times per day, leading to serious problems. The accumulation of free radical damage to brain cells can lead to such things as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. They wear upon muscle cells, decreasing strength and causing atrophy. Meanwhile, their attacks on the spleen deplete the immune system's ability to fight off all these other diseases.

Specifically, the free radicals damage our cells in four different ways:

1. They obstruct the transport of nutrients and food sources. This robs our bodies of the things they need to function, and puts to waste much of the effort we spend trying to maintain a healthy diet.

2. They damage the sites in the cell where our hormones dock to communicate. When these sites are damaged, the hormone is unable to talk to the cell and initiate the cell's function.

3. They permeate the sensitive membranes that surround our cells. This causes the fat inside these cells to become rancid, releasing toxins into our bodies. This process, called lipid peroxidation, leads to the clogging of our arteries and blood vessels.

4. Once they have broken through the cell membrane, they begin to attack the lysosome. This is a bag within each cell that contains lytic enzymes. When these enzymes are released, they initiate the cell's death by digesting it.

The first step to reducing the free radical damage in our bodies is reducing the number of free radicals we produce. This involves a series of lifestyle changes that everyone needs to listen to and no one wants to hear about.

First, stop smoking. The gases you take in from smoke, including second hand smoke, weaken the lining of your cells. This makes them much more susceptible to the attacks of the free radicals. Smoking also diminishes the immune system, allowing other diseases to move in.
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Second, make smarter decisions in your diet. Age accelerating foods such as sausage, red meat, and alcohol cause your cells to produce more free radicals than they typically would. This is in addition to all of the other damage they do to your body. It is also worthwhile to mention that the same food that accelerate the aging process also accelerate the waistline, giving you an added incentive to cut back on them.

Next, relax and get some sleep. Worrying too much and sleeping too little weaken your body, making each free radical attack a little more potent. This may be the most difficult change for most of us to make, but the benefits are well worth the effort.

While you make a reasonable effort to curb the amount of free radicals in your body, you can start fighting the ones that will inevitably be produced. This is where anti-oxidants come into play. Anti-oxidants donate an electron to the free radicals, ending their search and all the damage that comes along with it.

By maintaining anti-aging levels of anti-oxidants, which are much higher than the government's RDA's (Recommended Daily Amounts) that you see on "Nutritional Facts" labels, you can make a very significant difference in the amount of free radical damage your body sustains. The key is to understand how different anti-oxidants work and take the proper amounts of each. Using a shotgun approach will end up wasting your time and money without producing the best results.

To make developing a system easier, we will take a look at the most powerful anti-oxidants and how they should be taken:

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