The role antioxidants/free radical scavenging plays in combating premature aging and cellular degeneration

Stopping the Aging Process with Free Radicals

No one likes to get older. Every time you notice a new wrinkle on your face, you probably consider different treatments to stop the aging process. However, aging does not only change our outside appearance, but also affects our internal organs and normal body functions. Antioxidants are one way we can fight off aging; and, Willard Water® will provide a series of articles about antioxidants’ role in stopping and even reversing the aging process.

The Aging Process

Scientists believe that a major source of aging is caused by our mitochondrial DNA, according to Stanford’s The Tech. When free radicals attack the mitochondria, which is an organelle found in cells that are responsible for providing energy for that cell, they damage its DNA, called mtDNA. During the attacks on the mtDNA by free radicals, the mitochondria cannot produce the needed energy for cells, which leads to aging. Free radical scavengers, or antioxidants, are needed to offset the effects of free radicals.

Free Radicals

Free radicals, as explained by WebMD, are uncharged molecules with unpaired electrons that travel through our bloodstream. They form during a process known as oxidation, when oxygen interacts with our cells. When this occurs, certain cells die and other cells are born, which is a typical bodily process. However, as a result of oxidation, some cells become damaged and turn into free radicals. These radicals are missing an electron, so they go haywire in our bodies trying to find another electron to pair with. During the search, the free radicals can cause irreparable harm to the cell’s DNA, changing its code.

Although the body is naturally designed to use our immune system to kill off these free radicals, when too many of the invaders attack at once, the body is not able to function properly. In addition to the oxidation process, free radicals grow and multiply when you are exposed to pollution, such as from second-hand smoke and ultraviolet rays from the sun. Other toxins, such as pesticides in our food supply, also promote the formation of free radicals.

Antioxidants

An antioxidant, also known as a free radical scavenger, is a vitamin, enzyme or mineral that attacks free radicals. This nutrient is a compound found in food, and is also available in supplement forms. As the name “scavenger” suggests, antioxidants are free radical hunters. They seek them out, and extinguish them so they don’t have a chance to damage healthy cells. Antioxidants’ main role is to stop the oxidation process before it starts, preventing electrons from passing from healthy cells to free radicals.

An article in the 2007 edition of Clin Interv Aging states that Westerners, especially women and children, need to make sure they get enough antioxidants now more than ever before due to “changes in eating habits in Western Countries, lower food concentration of micronutrients due to intensive agricultural techniques.”

Sources of Antioxidants

There are different types of antioxidants, such as Vitamin A, C and E, polyphenols, beta-carotene and flavonoids. They work by either destroying the free radicals altogether, or by stopping the chain reaction caused by the unstable electrons that attack healthy cells. They can be found in food or taken as supplements.

Food

Most of us can get the benefits of these antioxidants through a healthy diet, with foods such as:

  • Vitamin A – Liver, cooked sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens and squash.

  • Vitamin C – Fresh oranges, mango, papaya, pineapple and strawberries.

  • Vitamin E – Vegetable oils, like sunflower and olive oil, avocado, and leafy green vegetables.

  • Beta-Carotene – Cantaloupe, carrots, pumpkin, spinach and apricots.

  • Polyphenols – Onions, tea, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.

  • Flavonoids – Leeks, broccoli, blueberries, red wine and tea.

Supplements

Antioxidants are also available in supplement form. Below are generally recommended doses:

  • Vitamin A – Mayo Clinic recommends taking “900 micrograms daily (3,000 IU) for men and 700 micrograms daily (2,300 IU) for women.”

  • Vitamin C – The U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends taking 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men 18 and over.

  • Vitamin E – National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends taking 5 mg (22.4 IU) for adults 18 and over.

  • Beta-Carotene – Mayo Clinic recommends a dose of six to 15 milligrams per day for teenagers and adults.

  • Polyphenols and Flavonoids – Nutrition and Dietary Supplements from 2010 recommends “300 mg quercetin, 1 g citrus flavonoids or 20 mg resveratrol with suggested use of 1–6 capsules per day.”

Bioavailability

Because there are such a wide variety of antioxidants, they all have different bioavailability, or the degree to which the nutrients get absorbed in our bloodstream to provide positive effects for our body. For example, an article from the 2011 issue of J Food Sci explains that: “bioaccessibility and bioavailability of each compound differs greatly, and the most abundant antioxidants in ingested fruit are not necessarily those leading to the highest concentrations of active metabolites in target tissues.” Therefore, to help with bioavailability, it is recommended to add Willard Water® to your daily diet. Studies consistently show that drinking Willard Water® helps with antioxidant absorption and utilization. Furthermore, a recent cellular study conducted by NIS Labs in Klamath Falls, Oregon, found that Willard Water® was especially effective in increasing absorption, and activity, of antioxidants found in Vitamin E which plays a key role in free radical scavenging. The patented micelle catalyst in Willard Water® has also been found to aid in the breakdown of particles, which frees antioxidants and promotes absorbability.

With the pollution in our air and the toxins in our food, it is essential that we consume enough antioxidants to fight off the damage free radicals can cause to our tissues and cells. Without the help of free radicals scavengers, not only will we age faster, but also we will be more susceptible to serious diseases.  So be sure to get plenty of antioxidants and to add Willard Water® to your daily beverage to maximize the absorption and utilization of your antioxidants.

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