Every minute of every day cells of our bodies are assaulted by particles called oxygen free radicals, also called oxidants. We canít escape free radicals because our cells produce them during normal metabolism. Additionally, our every day environment contains an abundance of free radicals.
Unfortunately these radicals produce chain reactions that lead to damage of DNA in our cells. The aging of our cells is partly result of free radical damage, also called oxidation.
Fortunately there are some simple steps that we can take to minimize damage and to promote and prolong health of our cells.
Free radicals are molecules that have an unpaired electron. They are chemically active and can be thought of as scavengers. They easily bond with molecules of our cells in a process called oxidation.
We are familiar with normal oxidation process of metals such as iron. Iron oxide is called rust, and we know that rust can deteriorate quality of metal. Other metals also can exhibit oxidation which we generally call corrosion. We normally take steps to prevent corrosion of metals.
Damage to our cells caused by oxidation is often called inflammation. And we can take steps to protect ourselves from cellular oxidation.
There are numerous chemical compounds that will neutralize effects of oxidation. An antioxidant will bond with free radical, creating a stable molecule, and prevent radical from causing oxidation of cell. This new molecule can then be removed during normal bodily processes.
The best known antioxidants are nutrients, vitamins A, C, E and mineral selenium. Numerous other vitamins, minerals, and enzymes perform important protective antioxidant functions.
Many of these substances, most notably above mentioned vitamins A, C, E and mineral selenium, cannot be produced by our cells but must be ingested through foods we eat or supplements we take.