Anti-free radical nutrients – Fighting disease; repairing damage; delaying ageing
Free radicals are by-products of oxidation, a natural process in the body. Stress, environmental pollution, smoking, sunlight UV radiation and consumption of fatty food cause the free radical creation process to speed up in the body. Excessive free radicals attack our cells, causing damage to our body cells and accelerated ageing. Anti-free radical nutrients such as beta-carotene, vitamins C, E and the mineral zinc and selenium offer protection against degenerative diseases.
Beta-carotene is also known as pro-vitamin A. It can be converted to vitamin A as and when required, thus does not cause toxicity to the body when consumed at high doses over a long period. Beta-carotene acts as a potent antioxidant and is believed to enhance the function of the immune system. It improves vision and prevents night blindness.
Vitamin C, the best known among the vitamins, deserves the recognition as it performs a variety of function in the body, including growth and repair of body tissues, promotion of skin health through collagen production, maintaining healthy gums, blood vessels, bones and teeth, as well as strengthening the immune system.
Vitamin E, as a fat-soluble antioxidant, safeguards the protective fatty tissues that surrounds all major organs and prevents degenerative disorders. It is essential for maintaining a robust heart and strong, healthy capillary walls. It also has anti-aging properties which is helpful in promoting supple and moisturised skinby strengthening the skin’s protective barrier.
Zinc is vital in the enhancement of the immune system and efficiently down regulates chronic inflammatory responses in the elderly. This mineral is also essential in healthy reproductive system as it is involved in the production of male sperm and female ovum.
Selenium is a relatively new superstar in the antioxidant world. It is needed for the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which plays an important role against free radicals. Selenium also works closely with vitamin E in some of its metabolic actions and in the promotion of normal body growth and fertility. It improves certain energy-producing cells, including those of the heart, by ensuring adequate oxygen supply.
In a nut shell, antioxidants are the natural enemy of the nasty free-radicals. Fighters in the antioxidant arsenal include vitamin A, C, E and selenium. In combination, they act as a defense mechanism and safely interact with the free radicals, cutting off their effect before too much damage is caused. They may be considered as the key to promotion and maintenance of good health