Free radicals were protesting in the 1960's and early 1970's, but they pretty much quieted down when Nixon resigned.
However, the type of errant free radicals that cavort in your body causing all sorts of long-term damage can only be
disarmed and silenced through antioxidants.
Thankfully, antioxidants are easy to obtain through a combination of healthy diet and supplementation. There is a vast amount of research on free radical damage in the body and the numerous antioxidants (A, C, E, green tea, grape
seed, pine bark, to name a few) and their mechanisms of action.
Patrick Holford, in his book The Optimum Nutrition Bible, lists "Probable Antioxidant Deficiency Diseases:"
Alzheimer's, cancer, cardiovascular, cataracts, diabetes, hypertension, infertility, macular degeneration, measles,
mental illness, periodontal disease, respiratory tract infections and rheumatoid arthritis.
"The common denominator in the process of aging and its associated diseases is called oixdative damage," he points
out. Oxidative damage is caused by free radicals. Free radicals invade the body in a multitude of ways: pollution,
poor food, smoking, and even from excessive exercise.
Noted orthomolecular researcher Lester Packer, PhD, and Carol Colman, authors of The Antioxidant Miracle,
explain that "Free radicals are unstable molecules that
can damage cell structures and can ultimately lead to
cancer, heart disease, and numerous other illnesses. The key to good health is to maintain the right balance
between antioxidants and free radicals. That is the job of the body's antioxidant defense network."
"So far," writes Holford, "over 100 antioxidant nutrients have been discovered and hundreds, if not thousands, of
research papers have extolled their benefits.
The Antioxidant Team
There is a strong handful of antioxidants that you can take easily because they are abundant on the shelves of
your favorite health food store.
Lipoic Acid: This substance is distinctive in that it is the only known antioxidant that can boos
glutathione levels significantly; this is important because supplemental glutathione by itself is not well
absorbed. "My laboratory has shown that lipoic acid can boost glutathione levels in cells by an impressive 30
percent," writes Packer. "When you take lipoic acid, you are not only getting all the benefits of lipoic acid, but
you are in effect getting an additional dose of glutathione."
Glutathione: Glutathione, an abundant antioxidant, is made naturally in vivo from three amino acids
(glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine). Packer and Colman point out that glutathione is found in practically every
cell in the body and is very important in fighting free radicals. Of note -- those who are older than 40 are
experiencing gradual decline of glutathione production -- it can drop by almost 30 percent by the time we are 60,"
Vitamin C: Humans cannot make this vitamin on their own, therefore it is highly essential to obtain.
Study after study has demonstrated that vitamin C is a very potent free radical destroyer and is essential in
keeping the immune system running smoothly.
Vitamin E: This vitamin essentially travels through the body encased in lipoproteins, thereby protecting
these proteins from oxidation. Cardiologists and other researchers believe that lipoprotein oxidation is the first
step in the formation of atherosclerosis.
Coenzyme Q10(ubiquinone): This fat-soluble molecule works harmoniously with vitamin E in what Packer
calls the antioxidant cycle "to protect the fatty part of the cell from free radical attack."
Karl Ullis, MD offers an anti-aging antioxidant plan in his book, Age Right: Turn Back The Clock with a Proven
Personalized Anti-Aging Program:vitamin A (5,000 IU), natural mixed carotenes with beta-carotene (5-20 mg),
natural vitamin E (400-1,000 IU), vitamin C (500-1000 mg two to three times a day), flavonoid mixture containing
grape seed extract (50 to 300 mg), green tea extract (150 mg three times daily), mixed bioflavonoid complex with
quercetin (500 mg to 1 g twice daily); and minerals zinc (15 to 55 mg), copper (1 to 3 mg), manganese (5 to 15 mg)
and selenium (100 to 500 mcg).
"When our antioxidant enzyme defense system is working correctly, it turns dangerous oxidation waste products into
harmless water or other molecules," he writes.
For those of you who want to enhance your antioxidant intake through diet, Packer and Colman discuss a multitude of
healthy foods in their book. (Remember, though, that dietary supplements will boost therapeutic and valuable
levels of antioxidants in the body; foods and supplements work as a perfect team.)
Fruits and vegetables, naturally, should be consumed with gusto. Among them, ensure you eat apples, carrots,
berries, garlic, onions, citrus fruits, red grapes (red wine, judiciously), cruciferous vegetables (containing the
health-giving indoles), spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, sesame oil and seeds, soy foods, turmeric, winter squash
and walnuts. And, indulge in numerous cups of green tea.
"Healthy Shopper" is reprinted with permission from Vitamin Retailer magazine and is provided for educational purposes only by your local retailer. No part of this article is intended as medical advice. Always consult your health care provider for any medical problems.