Why Take A Daily Antioxidant?

What are antioxidants and why are they important to maintaining good health? Below we’ll take a look at the role antioxidants play in our bodies.

The Journal of Pharmaceutical Research summarized in 2008 that the development of cancer is 90-95% dependant upon the everyday battle between environmental carcinogens and the cancer-fighting “chemo-preventive” agents which lessen the impact of carcinogens in your body.[1. Anand, P. et al. (2008) Pharm Res. 2008 September; 25(9): 2097–2116.]

Known carcinogens include environmental pollutants, unbalanced hormones, glucose (sugar), obesity, heavy metals, stress, and others.  These factors create inflammation in the body and are also known to cause oxidative stress, as these carcinogens steal electrons from other molecules in your body and in turn cause the formation of free radicals.  Free radicals then start a chain reaction of further damage to more cells, wreaking havoc on your body.

This process of oxidation, which creates free radicals, is exactly what causes the rusting of a car, or the browning of an apple – but the danger is much greater when the damage is done inside your body.

Known “chemo-preventive” agents include over 25,000 identified phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables, including resveratrol (from grapes and berries), diallyl disulfide (from garlic), gingerol (from ginger) which fall under a category known as antioxidants.  Antioxidants are your body’s best defense against free radicals, as they work to stop the chain reaction of cellular damage.  Specifically, antioxidants pair with the electrons of the cell that are spinning out-of-orbit and out-of-control.  By doing so, the antioxidants stop the dangerous chain reaction that leads to further cell mutations.

You would be hard-pressed to find any region or culture in North America where known environmental carcinogens have not been identified, or where harmful lifestyle patterns do not dominate society.  Unfortunately, nutrition and fitness enthusiasts are susceptible to toxin exposure just as those who suffer from obesity and poor hygiene.  (In fact, some forms of exercise, while great for your heart and muscles, can also create physiological stress and therefore free radicals.)

Although the cells of your body are being affected by thousands of environmental stressors and free radicals every day, your body uses antioxidants to constantly repair the damage, and strengthen cells so that damage is less likely to occur again.

Without antioxidants, there is accelerated DNA damage.  With DNA damage, there is aging,[2. Finkel, T. & N.J. Holbrook (2000) Nature 408:239.] cellular toxicity,[3. Friedberg, E.C. et al. (1995) DNA Repair and Mutagenesis, ASM Press, Washington, DC.] and the acceleration of cancer[4. Hoeijmakers, J.H.J. (2001) Nature 411:366.] [5. Peltomaki, P. (2001) Mutation Res. 488:77.].  Daily antioxidants not only work hand-in-hand with your body’s natural detoxification system, but keep the impact of cellular mutations at a minimum to ensure great health long-term.