What Are The Antioxidant Benefits And How Do They Work?

We frequently hear the terms antioxidants and free radicals tossed around when discussing health issues, natural and preventative medicine, but what exactly is an antioxidant, what does it do, and more importantly how do antioxidants work? In order to understand their actions it’s important to understand the structure of the human cell.

Human cells are made up of different kinds of molecules and molecules consist of one or more atoms of one or more elements which are connected by a chemical bond. Electrons are involved in creating the chemicals which bond the atoms together to form these molecules. The number of protons at the centre of the nucleus determines the number of electrons surrounding it. Often atoms share electrons with other atoms to complete the bonding. Free radicals are formed when weak bonds split. They are unstable and in an attempt to stabilize themselves, attack the closest stable molecule in an attempt to steal its electrons.

Free radicals occur naturally in the body, but often they are a result of external environmental factors like pollution, cigarette smoke, herbicides and radiation.

The body normally deals with free radicals effectively with its own supply of antioxidants. A problem arises if our body is producing more free radicals than it can handle or if antioxidants are not available. Damage occurs and free radical damage accumulates as we age.

The biggest antioxidants benefit is that they donate their own electrons to the free radicals thus stopping them from stealing electrons from other atoms. The free radical is neutralized preventing it from damaging good cells and causing disease.  This leads to a whole range of antioxidant benefits because this leads to them being very helpful towards preserving your skin’s health and your internal organs in general.

Vitamin E is the most prolific of the fat-soluble antioxidants active in fighting cardiovascular disease by preventing oxidation (loss of electrons) and lipid peroxidation (creating unstable molecules containing more oxygen than is normal). It prevents the formation of plaque in the arteries which clogs them.

antioxidants benefitsVitamin C is the most prolific water-soluble antioxidant and is more notable in acting against free radicals caused by pollution and cigarette smoke. It has been noted that higher intakes of Vitamin C often relate to lower incidences of cancers, in particular the mouth, larynx, and esophagus. Vitamin C also plays a role in restoring Vitamin E’s antioxidant capability after neutralizing free radicals.

It is a well known fact that blueberries and cranberries are at the top of the antioxidant rich foods list for their content rich antioxidant levels, but other antioxidant foods include artichokes, beans, russet potatoes, pecans and even cinnamon. After learning of the health benefits of antioxidants and solving the mystery of how do antioxidants work you definitely want to add a variety of foods that contain this invaluable nutrient, keeping free radicals at bay should be a definite consideration on your next visit to the grocery store.

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3 Responses to “What Are The Antioxidant Benefits And How Do They Work?”

  • Most people don’t, nor do they need to, understand how electrons affect the cells in our bodies and how that creates free radicals. And easier way to think of how antioxidants work is the following:

    Consider the following, using money as an analogy to help us explain how antioxidants work:

    1) If you are a living person that means your body is performing chemical reactions to keep itself alive

    2) Whenever a chemical reaction occurs electrons are being transferred. Like money being transferred from one person to another

    3) Electrons are the “currency”/”money” for chemical reactions

    4) Electrons are happy when they are in pairs

    5) When electrons/money is in pairs it’s like having a whole dollar bill. When the electron/money is alone, it’s like having $0.99 in change. Which would you rather have: $0.99 in change or a whole dollar?

    6) Sometimes chemical reactions will cause an electron to be all by itself. When the electron is alone this creates a free radical. A free radical is like having $0.99 in change and will want to do whatever it takes to become a whole dollar again (even if it means stealing from the neighbors)

    7) Think of the free radical as a charity, and it needs money/an electron “donated” to it so it can be a whole dollar again

    8) The antioxidant is like a wealthy person who is looking to donate money to a charity

    9) The antioxidant/wealthy person sees the free radical/charity in need, donates money/an electron to the free radical/charity

    10) The electron is happy and instead of having $0.99 in change you have a whole dollar

    And don’t worry about the antioxidant. Much like the wealthy person, the antioxidant is happy & has a whole dollar even after it donates its electron/money.

    Check out the AntioxidantsDetective site for more info!

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