Antioxidants & Free Radicals

Posted by Jessica Di Biase on

Everyday our bodies generate free radicals. Oxygen is the basis for the formation of free radicals. We require large amounts of it for metabolism, which is breaking down nutrients for growth and energy. This energy is essential for such processes as breathing, thinking, digesting your food and having a beating heart. This is natural. The body and immune system uses some free radicals in a positive way.

We’re made up of trillions of cells. They come together to form tissues, and tissues come together to form organs. What happens within these cells may determine how long you live, and whether you live your life fully or with the burden of disease.

Cells have smaller units called atoms. Within the atom is a nucleus surrounded by pairs of electrons. But unlike a stable molecule in which every atom is ringed by pairs of electrons, free radicals carry an unmated electron that is looking to pair up with another. Unshared electrons are highly energetic and react rapidly with oxygen to form reactive oxygen species (ROS). By trapping an electron from a neighbouring molecule (which then makes that molecule a free radical), it can set off a chain reaction that cause damage on the cells. This process damages cell structures and DNA. This is devastating to a cell. Free radicals are constantly forming everywhere in the body at a very high rate.

Free radicals are caused by the body’s own natural processes. Free radical excesses are further created from the addition of toxins, radiation or poor digestive function. Disease tends to create free radicals. We are constantly creating free radicals at an astonishing speed.

Free radicals cause cell mutations, damage immune function, cause wrinkles and aging and are a contributing cause behind many diseases. Free radical damage is a major factor behind almost every known disease according to some researchers. If the free radical production becomes excessive, cellular damage can occur. Free radicals are the major cause of aging and declined health.

A healthy body can usually handle free radicals. When antioxidants are available they bind with these free radicals, rendering them powerless to help you maintain optimal health.

Our bodies are capable of producing some antioxidants and some are traditionally supplied in our diet eating fruits and vegetables. Free radical proliferation can also be caused by a lack of antioxidants in the diet, or the inability of the body to produce enough of them. Free radicals can also be caused by environmental sources like tobacco smoke, factories fumes, chemicals, pollutants, radiation, the ozone, and sometimes exercise.

Environmental influences, like pollution, have increased the need for more antioxidants on our daily use of face creams and face serums with Vitamin C and E to fight those free radicals.

Bruce Ames, a well-known scientist in the field of antioxidants, estimates that just one cell in the human body is hit about 10,000 times a day by a free radical. If that’s multiplied by the trillions of cells in the body the magnitude of this activity is tremendous.

How do antioxidants help to fight free radicals?

When an antioxidant encounters a free radical it freely gives up an electron of its own which satisfies the free radical and stops the out of control damage. This makes the antioxidant a free radical because it’s now an electron short. However, the chain reaction is stopped because the newly created free radical made from the antioxidant is very weak and unlikely to do further harm.

Antioxidant Foods for Immunity
Adding more fruit and vegetables of any kind to your diet will improve your health. But some foods are higher in antioxidants than others. The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. You’ll find them in colourful fruits and vegetables – especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow tones. To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, eat these foods raw or lightly steamed; don’t overcook or boil.

  • Beta-carotene and other carotenoids antioxidants inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. In the body, beta-carotene converts into vitamin A (retinol). We need vitamin A for good vision and eye health, for a strong immune system, and for healthy skin and mucous membranes.
    Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon.
  • Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid, is a vitamin found in food and used as a dietary supplement. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient involved in the repair of tissue and the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters. It is required for the functioning of several enzymes and it is important for the immune system function. It also functions as an antioxidant. Foods containing vitamin C include citrus fruits, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, raw bell peppers, berries, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes. Prolonged storage or cooking may reduce vitamin C content in foods.
  • Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that contains tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and tocopherols (alpha-tocopherol is the form of vitamin E that is preferentially absorbed and accumulated in humans). Both tocotrienols and tocopherols have similar chemical structures. The difference between tocotrienols and tocopherols is that tocotrienols have double bonds. Tocotrienols are often found in natural sources such as palm or rice bran oil. Food sources with the highest concentrations of vitamin E are vegetable oils, followed by nuts, seeds and whole grains. Foods containing Vitamin E include broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds. Vitamin E supplements are absorbed best when taken with meals. 

Other super foods that are rich in antioxidants include prunes, apples, raisins, berries, plums, red grapes, alfalfa sprouts, onions, eggplants, and beans. 

Pomegranate seeds are a great source of fiber, and the juice contains vitamin C, potassium, iron, and polyphenol antioxidants. Three types of polyphenols – tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid – are present in particularly high levels in pomegranate juice, and have the most powerful health benefits.

Vitamins aren’t the only antioxidants in food. Other antioxidants that may help boost immunity include zinc (found in oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, fortified cereals, and dairy products) and selenium (found in Brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry and fortified breads, and other grain products).

Antioxidant Super Foods: 
For optimal health and immune functioning, you should eat the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of the antioxidant vitamins and minerals. That’s the amount of a vitamin or nutrient that you need to stay healthy and avoid a deficiency.

Here are the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%–98%) healthy individuals; often used to plan nutritionally adequate diets for individuals:

  • Zinc: 11 milligrams for men, 8 milligrams for women. If you are a strict vegetarian, you may require as much as 50% more dietary zinc. That’s because your body absorbs less zinc when you have a diet rich in plant-based foods.
  • Selenium: 55 micrograms for men and women. The largest concentrations of selenium are found in the thyroid. If your levels are low, your body can’t make and maintain appropriate levels of the thyroid’s key hormones. Research suggests that selenium’s antioxidant properties may also protect the heart from oxidative damage.
  • Beta-carotene: with 3 milligrams to 6 milligrams of beta-carotene daily, your body will have the levels that may lower risk of chronic diseases.
  • Vitamin C: 90 milligrams for men, 75 milligrams for women. Smokers should get extra vitamin C: 125 milligrams for men and 110 milligrams for women.
  • Vitamin E: 15 milligrams for men and women.


Can’t you get antioxidants from taking a vitamin or supplement? Yes, but you may be missing out on other nutrients that could strengthen the immune system. Foods contain many different nutrients that work together to promote health. For example, researchers delving into the mysteries of fruits and vegetables and the complex antioxidants they contain have discovered benefits of:

  • Quercetin: a plant-based chemical (phytochemical) found in apples, onions, teas, red wines, and other foods. It fights inflammation and may help reduce allergies.
  • Luteolin: a flavonoid found in abundance in celery and green peppers. It also fights inflammation and one study showed it may help protect against inflammatory brain conditions like Alzheimer’s.
  • Catechins: a type of flavonoid found in tea. Catechins in tea may help reduce risk of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

If you can’t get enough antioxidants in your diet by eating fresh produce, some experts recommend taking a multivitamin that contains minerals, too. But be cautious about taking individual immune system supplements to boost immunity. With antioxidants, as with most anything, moderation is key. Vitamins A and E, for example, are stored in the body and eliminated slowly. Getting too much can be toxic.

Antioxidant Super Serums: 

UV rays, infrared radiation, pollution, and lifestyle factors generate damaging free radicals that prematurely age skin. Antioxidants provide advanced environmental protection and are clinically proven to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and promote a naturally even skin tone by neutralizing free radicals. 

  • Vitamin C serum to be effective must be formulated with pure l-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) at an acidic pH within the 2.0-3.5 pH range and have a concentration between 10-20%. Use a daytime vitamin C serum that delivers advanced environmental protection.  Village Spas  #Antioxidants 

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