Antioxidants

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Why We Need Free Radicals

Chances are that when you were younger, your parents advised you to steer clear of the bad crowd; that group of mayhem-causing kids that constantly found their way into some kind of trouble.  But perhaps, for some reason, the group liked you.  And you found that this was both an asset and liability. You could use the group to your advantage, but you had to be careful to avoid ending up detention. 

Like this dangerous group of friends, your body needs--but must carefully manage--a double-edged catalyst called oxygen.  Without oxygen, we couldn't survive for more than a few minutes because of its absolutely-essential role in energy production. But its positive actions have a dark side known as the "free radical effect."  Free radicals are oxygen molecules that have either combined with other molecules or picked up some extra energy in the form of a highly-energetic, free-floating electron.

Free radicals are a lot like biological cruise missiles looking for a place to land.  If they land on cellular membranes, they can disrupt or destroy them, leading to cell death and the release of toxic material to surrounding cells.  If they bang into DNA (genes), they can wreak havoc there causing cancer and a number of other degenerative diseases.  And it is this unchecked free radical activity that drives the aging process... 

What Are the Best Antioxidants?

There really isn’t a simple or singular answer to the question, “What are the best antioxidants?”  Because we are all genetically and biologically unique, our personal need for nutritional supplements—especially antioxidants—can and will vary.  Sometimes quite dramatically!
 
What your body may need now will be different than what it may need in the future.  And these needs will definitely be different from those of anyone else.  For example, you may need additional antioxidant support for your internal enzymatic system, which requires more nutrients that specifically promote increases in glutathione, SOD, and catalase. Your spouse, on the other hand, might need to focus on increasing the quantity and quality of his or her intake of phytochemicals found in fresh, whole foods.
 
In addition to physiological variables, lifestyle choices can significantly influence your body’s unique antioxidant needs.  Health issues and concerns aren’t always linked to a lack of antioxidants, but to excessive exposure to free radicals.  Smoking and/or breathing second-hand cigarette smoke or car exhaust fumes promote free radical damage. Too much sun exposure, eating foods fried in hydrogenated oils, the use of recreational and prescription drugs, radiation from frequent air travel and air pollution all cause free radical damage.  Physical injuries, obesity, stress, and prolonged or intense physical activity increase free radical damage, too.
 
The truth of the matter is that a broad-spectrum, food-based antioxidant supplement can be very beneficial to your overall health and well-being when it is selectively taken in the proper amount.  A random assortment of synthetic (or even natural), isolated antioxidants will not be effective in the fight against free radical damage.  So you can avoid being misled by marketing (forget about that ad for that newly-discovered South American ‘cure all’ fruit drink) and by propaganda (ignore that ‘scientific’ study that proves the use of a certain vitamin will cause cancer or shorten your lifespan).
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Below is a simple, five-step process for determining what the best antioxidants are—for YOU....  

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