The majority of you will have heard of antioxidants and their benefits to your health. When you open up any magazine, there is sure to be advertisements for antioxidant supplements assuring you that you will be cured from and illness by fighting “free radicals”.
Too put it simply, free radicals are generated as a harmful side effect when the body processes oxygen. With Oxygen being essential for human life, these free radicals can’t be avoided. You’re probably assuming that free radicals are all really bad for you… In actual fact, meek amounts of free radicals play vital roles in the normal process of the human body. Fortunately, there are substances out there that neutralize these free radicals, known as antioxidants.
A key point I want you to remember: by taking too many antioxidant supplements it can actually cause more harm than good by hunting the free radicals down and killing them off one by one.
To lead a healthy and happy lifestyle, there must be a delicate balance sustained between oxidative stress – the damaged cause by free radicals, and our body’s antioxidant defence mechanism. If this mechanism isn’t working as it should be, free radicals can produce too much oxidative stress, causing illnesses and disease.
Some substances that are vulnerable and may be damaged by free radicals are as follows:
- Nucleic Acids – (DNA and RNA) that pass on genetic information
- Carbohydrates – used by the body for energy
- Amino Acids – building blocks of all proteins
- Fats (Lipids)
However… Little amounts of free radicals are vital for some biological functions, so not all the effects of free radicals are bad. They can help with:
- Cell division
- Cell communication with their environment for optimal function
- Cell growth
- Regulating immune function
Hopefully I have cleared up the basics of free radicals and antioxidants for you!