The body uses oxygen and nutrients to make energy. Oxygen also helps the immune system fight disease and harmful substances. Oxidation is a process that uses byproducts formed from oxygen fighting disease to create molecular agents that react with body tissues. Unfortunately, this process can form “free radicals” that cause cell damage. Antioxidants help reduce the number of free radicals that form in the body, lower the energy levels of existing free radicals, and stop oxidation chain reactions to lower the amount of damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are believed to be one of the causes of over sixty health problems, according to various scientific and medical groups. These problems include cancer, aging, and atherosclerosis. By increasing antioxidant intake and reducing exposure to free radicals can help lower health risks and problems.
Antioxidant enzymes are also produced by our bodies and include catalase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione perixidase. These enzymes also fight against free radicals. The enzymes are available in supplemental forms, but it is believed that taking the building blocks of the enzymes in supplemental form is more effective. Zinc, selenium, copper, and manganese are some of the building blocks.
Minerals and vitamins are also often antioxidants. Vitamins including lutein, cysteine, beta-carotene, vitamin B2, vitamin C, vitamin E, and coenzyme Q10 and herbs such as bilburry, aloe vera, green tea, turmeric, ginkgo, grape seed or pine bark extracts, milk thistle, and cascara sagrada also help protect the body from health problems caused by oxidants. Many fruits also contain antioxidants like mangosteen.