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Hosted by: MrsCardiology
Title: Mrs. Cardiology, 5 Reasons to Know Your Anioxidant Scores
Time: 08/22/2013 08:00 AM EDT
Episode Notes: What is an antioxidant? An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons or hydrogen from a substance to an oxidizing agent. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When the chain reaction occurs in a cell, it can cause damage or death to the cell. Antioxidants terminate these chain reactions by removing free radical intermediates, and inhibit other oxidation reactions. They do this by being oxidized themselves, so antioxidants are often reducing agents such as thiols, ascorbic acid, or polyphenols. In plain English as Mrs.Cardiology will break it down for you, free radicals are directly linked by current medical research to such diseases as cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants are the militia to fight free radicals and you need to know your score to see how effective your army of antioxidants is. This is just one of the reasons of the 5 Reasons to Know Your Antioxidant Score.

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Mrs. Cardiology, 5 Reasons to Know

Your Antioxidant Scores

 

  1. What are Antioxidants                                                           

    New meaning to eating your vegetables!

    New meaning to eating your vegetables!

  2. What do Antioxidants Do
  3. Are there different types of antioxidants
  4. Do Antioxidants Really Improve Your Health
  5. How Much of what types of antioxidants do I Need
  6. Where are these mysterious antioxidants hiding

1. First of all, what are antioxidants

As the name implies, antioxidants are substances that are capable of counteracting the damaging, but normal, effects of the physiological process of oxidation in animal tissue. Antioxidants are nutrients (vitamins and minerals) as well as enzymes (proteins in your body that assist in chemical reactions). They are believed to play a role in preventing the development of such chronic diseases as cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, and cataracts.

Oxidative stress occurs when the production of harmful molecules called free radicals is beyond the protective capability of the antioxidant defenses. Free radicals are chemically active atoms or molecular fragments that have a charge due to an excess or deficient number of electrons. Examples of free radicals are the superoxide anion, hydroxyl radical, transition metals such as iron and copper, nitric acid, and ozone. Free radicals containing oxygen, known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), are the most biologically significant free radicals. ROS include the radicals superoxide and hydroxyl radical, plus derivatives of oxygen that do not contain unpaired electrons, such as hydrogen peroxide, singlet oxygen, and hypochlorous acid.

Because they have one or more unpaired electrons, free radicals are highly unstable. They scavenge your body to grab or donate electrons, thereby damaging cells, proteins, and DNA (genetic material). The same oxidative process also causes oils to become rancid, peeled apples to turn brown, and iron to rust.

It is impossible for us to avoid damage by free radicals. Free radicals arise from sources both inside (endogenous) and outside (exogenous) our bodies. Oxidants that develop from processes within our bodies form as a result of normal aerobic respiration, metabolism, and inflammation. Exogenous free radicals form from environmental factors such as pollution, sunlight, strenuous exercise, X-rays, smoking and alcohol. Our antioxidant systems are not perfect, so as we age, cell parts damaged by oxidation accumulate.

Antioxidants come in several forms, including the vitamins A, C, and E; plant-derived polyphenols, found in colorful fruits and vegetables; and also the element selenium, found in nuts and broccoli. “What these compounds share,” explains K. Sandeep Prabhu, Penn State assistant professor of immunology and molecular toxicology, “is the ability to neutralize harmful molecules in our cells.”

These harmful molecules, known as free radicals, contain unpaired electrons—which is unusual because electrons typically come in pairs. “The unpaired electrons make free radicals highly reactive, and in this state, they can cause damage by attacking the components of our cells, and can even cause cancer,” Prabhu says.

So where do free radicals come from? Some are created as a natural by-product of reactions in our cells, says Prabhu. Other sources of free radicals include cigarette smoke, air pollution, and exposure to UV light or radiation. And once free radicals are formed, they can make more free radicals by scavenging electrons from other molecules, “creating a domino effect,” he adds.

2.  What do Antioxidants Do?

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals either by providing the extra electron needed to make the pair, or by breaking down the free radical

What you should eat as pictured on http://healthyprotocols.com/image_antioxidants-fruit.jpg

http://healthyprotocols.com/image_antioxidants-fruit.jpg

molecule to render it harmless. “Antioxidants stop the chain reaction of free radical formation and benefit our health by boosting our immune system ,” explains Prabhu. Because antioxidants are used up in the process of free radical neutralization, a diet rich in antioxidants is essential to ensure a constant supply.

Research has shown that antioxidants can have an important impact on serious diseases. In one recent study, the addition of a polyphenol-rich blueberry gel to the diet of oral cancer patients prevented recurrence of the cancer. Another experiment demonstrated that increased levels of selenium in the diets of a group of HIV-positive patients significantly delayed progression of the disease.

From:  http://news.psu.edu/story/141171/2008/08/18/research/probing-question-how-do-antioxidants-work

3.  Are there different types of antioxidants?

Antioxidant Nutrients
Antioxidants from our diet appear to be of great importance in controlling damage by free radicals. Each nutrient is unique in terms of its structure and antioxidant function.

Vitamin E is actually a generic term that refers to all entities (eight found so far) that exhibit biological activity of the isomer tocopherol (an isomer is one of two or more molecules that have the same chemical formula but different atomic arrangements). Alpha-tocopherol, the most widely available isomer, has the highest biopotency, or strongest effect in the body. Because it is fat-soluble (and can only dissolve in fats), alpha-tocopherol is in a unique position to safeguard cell membranes — largely composed of fatty acids — from damage by free radicals. Alpha-tocopherol also protects the fats in low-density lipoproteins (LDLs, or the “bad” cholesterol) from oxidation.

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. As such, it scavenges free radicals that are in an aqueous (watery) environment, such as inside your cells. Vitamin C works synergistically with vitamin E to quench free radicals. Vitamin C also regenerates the reduced (stable) form of vitamin E.

Beta-carotene, also a water-soluble vitamin, is the most widely studied of the 600 carotenoids identified to date. It is thought to be the best quencher of singlet oxygen (an energized but uncharged form of oxygen that is toxic to cells). Beta-carotene is also especially excellent at scavenging free radicals in low oxygen concentration.

Selenium is a trace element. It is a mineral that we need to consume in only very small quantities, but without which we could not survive. It forms the active site of several antioxidant enzymes including glutathione peroxidase.

Similar to selenium, the minerals manganese and zinc are trace elements that form an essential part of various antioxidant enzymes.

There are also Antioxidant Enzymes, discussion of which is a bit over the top of this discussion.

Other Antioxidants
In addition to enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, there appear to be many other nutrients and compounds that have antioxidant properties. Among them is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10, or ubiquinone), which is essential to energy production and can also protect the body from destructive free radicals. Also, uric acid, a product of DNA metabolism, has become increasingly recognized as an important antioxidant. Additionally, substances in plants called phytochemicals are being investigated for their antioxidant activity and health-promoting potential.

4.  Do Antioxidants Really Improve Your Health

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals either by providing the extra electron needed to make the pair, or by breaking down the free radical molecule to render it harmless. “Antioxidants stop the chain reaction of free radical formation and benefit our health by boosting our immune system ,” explains Prabhu. Because antioxidants are used up in the process of free radical neutralization, a diet rich in antioxidants is essential to ensure a constant supply.

Research has shown that antioxidants can have an important impact on serious diseases. In one recent study, the addition of a polyphenol-rich blueberry gel to the diet of oral cancer patients prevented recurrence of the cancer. Another experiment demonstrated that increased levels of selenium in the diets of a group of HIV-positive patients significantly delayed progression of the disease.

A 1997 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 60 mg of vitamin E a day strengthened the immune system in a group of healthy patients at least 65 years old, and 200 mg generated a four-to-six fold improvement after four months. However, 800 mg of vitamin E resulted in worse immunity than receiving no vitamin E at all.

In 2001, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial, showed that high-dose supplementation of 500 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, 15 mg of beta-carotene, 80 mg of zinc, and 2 mg of copper significantly reduced development of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) compared to placebo.  In addition, the antioxidant-plus-zinc group had significant reduction in rates of at least moderate visual acuity loss.

5.  How Much of what types of antioxidants do I Need

The Most Common Antioxidants and Where to Find Them

Some of the most common antioxidants, and the foods which contain them, are:

  • Vitamin A      and Carotenoids, which are found in carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches and apples.
  • Vitamin C,      which is found in citrus fruits, green peppers, leafy green vegetables,  strawberries and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin E,      which is found in nuts and seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables,  vegetable oil and liver oil.
  • Selenium,      which is found in fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and      garlic.

Some other common antioxidants include:

  • Flavoniods      and polyphenols, which are found in soy, red wine, purple and red grapes,      pomegranates, cranberries and tea.
  • Lycopene,      which is found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon.
  • Lutein,      which is found in dark green vegetables such as kale, kiwi, broccoli,  brussels sprouts and spinach.
  • Lignan,      which is found in flax seed, oatmeal, barley and rye.

Since 1941, the Food and Nutrition Board has determined the types and quantities of nutrients that are needed for healthy diets by reviewing scientific literature, considering how nutrients protect against disease, and interpreting data on consumption of nutrients. For each type of nutrient, the Board has established a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)-a daily intake goal for nearly all (98 percent) healthy individuals, and a “tolerable upper intake level” (UL)-the maximum amount of a nutrient that healthy individuals can take each day without risking adverse health effects. In some cases, the Board has decided there isn’t enough evidence to determine the amount at which a particular nutrient is essential or harmful to health.

Over the last several years, the Board has been updating and expanding the system for determining the RDA and UL values, which are now collectively referred to as the Dietary Reference Intakes, or DRIs. The following recommendations were made for consumption of antioxidants in the 2000 report, “Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids”:

(c) Sunita Pandit, 2013-2014, All Rights Resereved