There are three primary sources for free radicals relevant to the topic at hand: the environment, internal production, and stress factors. The environmental factors we are all familiar with: pollution, pesticides, herbicides, cigarette smoke, drugs and even some foods can generate free radicals in our bodies. As a normal part of our metabolic functions, our bodies are constantly producing free radicals as well. Additionally, aging, disease, lack of sleep and "stress" itself can all accelerate the bodies’ production of free radicals by a factor of eight times or more. So if we can't avoid free radicals, what do we do to stay healthy? Our bodies are constantly repairing damaged cells but daily living means that our bodies are bombarded by more free radicals than they can handle. By supplementing with antioxidants, we help our bodies keep up with the carnage.... sometimes we can even get ahead and reverse the damage.
Antioxidants are compounds that render free radicals harmless and stop the chain reaction formation of new free radicals. Most of us have heard of Vitamin E and C but there are many other important antioxidants that are needed to support your entire body. No single antioxidant works on all free radicals and in every area of the body. Many antioxidants reinforce each other so getting a good formula combination of antioxidants for effective defense is important for overall health. There is no such thing as an ultimate antioxidant, but do look for formulations with these ingredients: Beta Carotene, Alpha Carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Zeaxanthin, Selenium, N-Acetyl-Cysteine, L-Methionine, Quercetin, Ginkgo Biloba, Curcumin, Green Tea Extract, Bilberry, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Superoxide Dismutase, Tocotrienols, Grape Seed Extract, Chaparral Extract and Catalase. There are other antioxidants worth taking but most others need to be taken separately in order to get effective quantities of the antioxidants.
As Jon Barron states (author of Lessons From The Miracle Doctors), "The use of antioxidant supplements at a maintenance level may provide the ultimate defense against premature aging and a compromised immune system. At therapeutic levels, antioxidants may actually play a significant role in the effects of aging and disease." Sounds like good advice we should all take...along with our antioxidant supplements.
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