The term “antioxidant” refers to a variety of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that help to protect the body from the formation and disposal of free radicals. The body can also manufacture its own antioxidants, yet an increase in free radicals would place stress on the body if sufficient dietary antioxidants were not available.
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Some people have the idea that an antioxidant is a specific nutrient, yet it actually refers to any nutritional compound that has these qualities. Although some people think that antioxidants are only useful in the fight against ageing and degenerative diseases, it must be kept in mind that they have a wide sphere of influence on the body, and they can positively influence your general wellbeing.
Pine bark, grape seed extract and co-enzyme Q10 are just three antioxidants that people normally know, since they are widely advertised, yet there are other antioxidants that can be far more effective in a combined formulation, since you benefit from the synergy created between the different antioxidants.
This is the view of most researchers into the effects of antioxidants, since a combined formulation of antioxidants have the effect that one would compliment the other and bolster the effectiveness in general.
The reason why a combined antioxidant from different sources is more successful is the fact that some antioxidants have certain weaknesses, or work better on certain problems, which can be negated or corrected by the addition of another type of antioxidant.
Most people are under the impression that the field of investigation into antioxidants and free radicals is a brand new phenomenon, yet the “father” of free radical research, Dr. Denham Harman, proposed his free radical theories in 1956.
The Hungarian, Professor Imre Nagy, who has spent almost his entire life on aging research, then built on Dr. Harman research. There was a subtle, yet dramatic change in the way that free radical damage was looked at, since Dr. Harman and all his contemporaries contended that damage was only done to the cell interior.
What Prof. Nagy showed was that free radicals also damaged the cell membrane and that there was a direct correlation between cell dehydration and free radicals.
Although this might not sound all that important, it must be kept in mind that the cell interior is mostly water based, while the cell membrane is lipid based.
Free radicals are an atom or group of atoms containing at least one unpaired electron. An electron is a particle that normally occurs in pairs and is negatively charged which is a stable arrangement.
Should an electron become unpaired, it becomes unstable, and to create balance again it will bond with another molecule, which then sets off a whole chain reaction.
Free radicals are created in normal biochemical processes and the body can normally keep them in check, but a problem is created when too many free radicals are present in the body for too long a time. It is normal to have some free radicals in your body, since they do perform certain necessary functions, yet, our modern lifestyle can lead to an excess of these free radicals being formed.
Free radicals are generated when oxygen is used to produce energy but are also produced by other external factors.
- The increased amount of oxygen used during vigorous exercising causes more free radicals to be formed, and although regular exercise is beneficial to your general health, an increase in dietary antioxidants may be called for.
- Food additives
- Food additives are added to improve the shelf life and stability of processed and smoked foods, but these are not "body friendly".
- Food preparation
- When you are cooking food it may increase the amount of free radicals in the
body, especially so when frying foods.
- When exposed to abnormal ozone levels, your normal metabolism may not be able to cope with the extra free radicals caused.
- Unless your foodstuffs are totally organically grown, and pests controlled by natural means, pesticides and herbicides are used on the crops. Ingesting these pesticides causes more oxidative stress in the body and should be neutralized by enough antioxidants being available in the diet or through supplementation.
- People living in any metropolitan area are exposed to pollution, and if you regularly commute in traffic jams or live near any industrial areas, your body is exposed to even more harmful air particles, and supplementation of antioxidants should be considered.
- Modern day lifestyles and competitive job related stress is also a contributing factor to excess free radicals circulating in your body.
- If you are regularly exposed to sunlight, especially to ultra-violet radiation, or if you are going to be exposed to sunlight for any length of time, for instance sunbathing, skiing, yachting etc it is best to supplement your diet with extra antioxidants.
- Tobacco smoke
- Any smoker, and that includes people living with smokers who may inhale secondary smoke, should look at supplementing their diet with vitamin C. Although some people would contend that this is excessive, you should look at supplementing your diet daily with 25 mg of vitamin C for each cigarette smoked.
- Keep in mind that although extra vitamin C would be beneficial, it is still best to take antioxidants in a combined formula.
- Normal magnetism fields, created in our environment should be handled by diet, but if exposed to extra X-rays you should consider supplementing your diet.
When these excess free radicals have a free reign on our body they cause severe damage to cells, which can lead to degenerative diseases as well as premature ageing. Free radicals are extremely active and do not only attack and damage the cell membranes, but will virtually attack all parts of the cell, including the DNA - the area where the blueprint of the cell is kept and produced.
Therefore, free radicals do not only damage the existing cells, but also attack the DNA, which leads to faulty translation of genetic material. Antioxidants stop these free radicals in their tracks and enable the cells to rejuvenate or stabilize for the life process.
All antioxidants have a chemical element referred to as a “redox” potential, which is the measurement of their ability to be oxidized. They are by this action also classified as “reducing agents” which are needed to quickly block the chain reaction caused by free radicals before cell damage can result.
Considering the fact that the redox equilibrium is important to the body’s coping mechanism, it follows that antioxidants can influence many health conditions.
In the list that follows we have noted some health conditions that may be positively influenced when sufficient antioxidants are available in the body.
- It can help to boost the immune system and clear the blood.
- Ageing skin
- To help protect the cell integrity as well as the supportive collagen tissue.
- Useful in boosting the immune system, they may be of value to people with Aids.
- Consumption of alcohol causes a host of toxins in the body and antioxidants are useful in the detoxification process.
- Certain antioxidants help with the control of the histamine release mechanism, it may be of use for allergies.
- Angina, heart and arterial disease
- By helping to protect blood vessels from fatty deposits they may help the veins maintain their elasticity.
- Arthritis and joint pain
- Helps to relieve localized oxidative stress and also promote healthy joint cells.
- Bowel inflammation
- Since free radicals contribute to this problem, the addition of antioxidants may be helpful.
- Although antioxidants may not cure cancer, much research has been done and is still continuing, regarding the role of antioxidants in the prevention and alleviation of cancer.
- Capillary fragility
- They help in strengthening capillaries as well as helping to prevent fatty deposits.
- Circulatory problems
- It seems to be involved in helping to control fatty deposits in the arteries, and in maintaining elasticity of the veins and good circulation.
- Colds and flu
- While boosting the immune system they will help to alleviate these conditions.
- Useful in releasing oxidized fatty deposits, and in doing so, boosting energy production.
- Gingivitis, gum bleeding and mouth ulcers
- Vitamin C has long been indicated in the treatment of both gingivitis and mouth ulcers, but a combined antioxidant formula would also be indicated.
- Help prevent oxidation processes from hampering recovery.
- Male infertility
- Excessive free radicals destroy genetic material and sperm counts may be lower than normal, which could lead to infertility.
- Memory loss
- Promotes the growth of tissue and helps prevent DNA destruction, they are also indicated to assist with memory loss.
- Piles and varicose veins
- It assists in vein and artery health, it would also be indicated to help these conditions.
- As with arthritis, antioxidants are involved in relieving localized oxidative stress and also promote healthy joint cells.
- Scar formation
- Although the topical application of vitamin E has long been advocated to prevent the formation of scar tissue in wound healing, the dietary supplementation of antioxidants can also be useful in this case.
- Antioxidants help to reduce the build-up of peroxide from the body, an increase in stamina should be experienced when they are abundant in the body.
- General stress levels, as well as specific female stress during pregnancy, menopause or when taking oral contraceptives, as well as stress felt by adolescents while growing up, can benefit from extra antioxidants.
- The oxidation processes can hamper wound healing and since antioxidants will help control this, better healing should be promoted and the immune system boosted in general, which will help to prevent infections.
Although the list above almost covers the whole spectrum of ills and ailments, it must be noted that it is not claimed that antioxidants will cure or prevent these conditions, but there is a strong indication that they may be of assistance.
Below is a list of antioxidant nutrients that have been found to be of value.
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid
- It is also called thioctic acid and works in synergy with enzymes in energy production as well as with the B group vitamins. It is found in brewer’s yeast, liver and spinach. Results in a study showed that alpha-lipoic acid counteracted glycollate-induced free radical toxicity in rats.
- There are thousands of bioflavonoids found in nature, and they are often referred to as flavonoids.
- This is a citrus bioflavonoid and has for years been used in conjunction with vitamin C since they have great synergy together. Results in a study found that rutin inhibited oxidative damage in pathological human red blood cells.
- This is also a citrus bioflavonoid and is mostly indicated for capillary health. Results in a study showed that hesperidin taken from orange peel possessed significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Quercetin is found in apple peel and onions and assists the body in utilizing blood sugar and inhibiting histamine release.
- Procyanidolic oligomers (PCO)
- PCO’s are present in pine bark, grape seed as well as red wine and have shown great promise protesting the heart and circulatory system, preventing histamine release and promoting the health of veins.
- Polyphenols are mostly found in green tea, which is an excellent source of epigallocatechin-gallate, and shows great promise in anti-cancer research.
- Coenzyme Q10
- Coenzyme Q10, also called Ubiquinone, is produced by the body and is found in food sources such as nuts and certain oils.
- Cysteine is an amino acid, and two molecules of cysteine forms cystine and this sulfur containing amino acid is most useful in detoxifying the body. It is also a precursor to glutathione, which protects the liver.
- Essential phospholipids
- Essential Phospholipids (EPL) from Lecithin have become popular as nutritional supplements because it has been discovered that populations that consume large amounts of EPLs suffer very low rates of heart disease, despite the fact that their diets are high in fats and cholesterol. It is thought that this is due to the ability of the EPLs to reduce the adhesiveness of platelets in the blood (thus reducing the blood’s tendency to clot), to reduce the blood levels of very low-density lipoprotein (VLDLs), to reduce the levels of triglycerids in the blood and to reduce the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver.
- Ginkgo Biloba
- This herb is normally used as a supplement for mental fatigue, a memory booster, as well as an aphrodisiac, since it assists with circulation to even the smallest capillaries, and delivers oxygen and glucose to the nerves.
- This is classed as a tripeptide, is produced by the liver and not only does it work in detoxifying the liver, but also helps to maintain the integrity of red blood cells and to protect white blood cells.
- Grape Seed Extract
- Grape seed contains procyanidolic oligomers, which are also referred to as pycnogenols, and have the same active ingredient as that of pine bark. It is both water and oil soluble, which makes it attractive as an antioxidant, since it can have both an influence on the cell membrane and cell interior.
- Green Tea
- Unlike normal tea, green tea is not fermented which is why it contains polyphenols. The EGCG (epigallocatechin-gallate) contained in green tea is especially indicated to be useful in the treatment of cancers.
- The hormone melatonin is a powerful antioxidant, and is produced by the pineal gland and is also indicated in our sleep patterns and has also been found to have a beneficial effect on the aging process.
- Pine Bark
- Pine Bark, also known as pycnogenol, was discovered and the extraction patented in 1950. It has the same active ingredient as grape seed extract.
- Selenium is a component of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase found in nearly every cell of the body. This trace element is present in soil and is abundant in Brazil nuts, seafood, poultry and meats.
- Superoxide Dismutase
- This is an enzyme, which helps to revitalize cells, and also assists in reducing cell destruction and is specifically beneficial in protecting the mitochondria of the cell where the cell’s genetic information is stored.
- Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene
- This fat-soluble vitamin is also required for bone formation, gastrointestinal and eye health and in assisting the immune system and skin. Results of a double blind, placebo controlled study found that supplementation with beta-carotene for two weeks moderately enhanced certain aspects of immune response in healthy male cigarette smokers.
- Vitamin C
- Many nutritionists like Adelle Davis promoted the use of vitamin C, and the medical fraternity now accepts the fact that there are countless uses for this vitamin. It is required for the manufacture of collagen in the body, and helps boost the effectiveness of other antioxidants in the body.
- Vitamin E
- This vitamin is especially helpful in preventing the oxidation of lipids, assists in the utility of oxygen and selenium. A review article notes the many positive aspects of vitamin E with respect to the aging process, including its ability to modify free radicals, deficiency of protein synthesis, ameliorate the functionality of important body organs, help maintain bone matrix trophysm.
- Zinc on its own has antioxidant properties, yet also forms part of superoxide dismutase while it helps with vitamin A absorption and promotes glandular health.
Although it falls outside the scope of this newsletter to supply an antioxidant diet, we have however listed some general diet tips if you wish to increase your dietary intake of antioxidants and wish to limit the loss of them.
- Try to limit or cut out the following:
- Processed foods
- Smoked foods
- Burnt or heavily barbequed foods
- Deep fried foods
- Ready made foods
- High fat items such as pastries
- Any items with added salt (check for sodium)
- Items with added sugar
- Try to limit your red meat intake
- Try to increase:
- Fresh and unprocessed foods
- Raw fruit and vegetables
- The fiber content in your diet
- If you follow a vegetarian diet, add protein by means of adding nuts, tofu, chick-peas etc.
- Healing cream
- To assist in wound healing while soothing skin complaints – such as eczema and psoriasis, acne and piles and moisturizing and protecting the skin. This product has shown its effectiveness over a wide range of problems and judging from sales over more than a decade – it is the trusted healing cream to help with all mishaps, allergic reactions, irritated, burning, itchy and uncomfortable skin conditions.
- Face wash
- This face wash will properly clean your face and remove all impurities and environmental pollutants, without drying the skin. It contains eight herbal extracts to help promote a clear, vital and healthy complexion and a younger looking skin.
- Moisturizing day cream
- This day cream is formulated to help fight the signs of aging on various fronts. It helps to reduce free radical damage which, if left unchecked, leads to premature aging. The herbal extracts help to promote cell rejuvenation and regeneration and provide moisture and hydration to the skin.
- Nourishing night cream
- This nourishing night cream penetrates the skin extremely well and does not make the skin feel oily. It contains a host of herbal extracts to help in the fight against premature aging and has added vitamin E as well. Apart from the moisturizing effect and the anti-aging properties it also softens and smoothes the skin.
- Eye gel
- An effective refreshing eye gel to help reduce puffiness and dark rings around the eyes, while fighting wrinkles and lines. This is a very clever combination of herbal extracts and the base formula has its roots in a clinically proven formula.
- Mud face mask
- With this skin treatment product we combined a special selection of herbs in a base of thermal mud with oligoelements. This recommended weekly treatment will boost circulation to the skin, help to fight wrinkles and lines, improve firmness while at the same time improving suppleness and elasticity of the skin.
- Shampoo with rosemary extract + 7 other herbals
- Our shampoo is in a class of its own – and granted – it is far more expensive than cheap supermarket shampoos, but no other shampoo has the active ingredients we have in our shampoo. The rosemary will boost the health of the hair and scalp, while the other seven herbal extracts will help strengthen the hair and make it shine, increase the volume and make it manageable.
- Rosemary hair treatment conditioner
- We have found that this hair conditioner should really be used as a conditioning treatment. This then removes the need to condition the hair every time you wash – and can be used once a month. It is a superb hair tonic and helps in the control of sebum secretion of the scalp. Although not formulated for dandruff – the ingredients will assist with this as well, while supporting the health of the scalp.
- Hand and body lotion
- When formulating this hand and body lotion we created a rich nourishing, protecting and reviving lotion, which will not leave the skin oily or tacky, but will create a well moisturized, hydrated and supple skin. After applying this lotion it will quickly be absorbed by the skin, leaving it silky soft, smooth and well moisturized.
- Stretch mark gel
- Although nothing can remove already formed stretch marks (only surgery can do that) – thousands of satisfied clients confirm that this gel improves the appearance of old stretch marks. The gel will help in PREVENTING stretch marks (a 92% success rate) and is used with great success by expectant mothers and body builders who may form marks when bulking-up. The formula of this gel is based on clinical studies done in France, to which we added other herbal extracts.
- Jojoba oil
- This liquid golden ester not only moisturizes and penetrates the skin but also helps to fight wrinkles and lines while promoting a clear and unblemished skin. Jojoba does not clog the pores but helps to restore skin elasticity and smoothness. It will leave the skin supple and velvety soft without any oiliness and can be used neat on the skin.
- Almond oil
- This light and deeply moisturizing oil has a softening effect on the skin and can be used on the face and body. Almond oil has excellent emollient properties and helps to balance water and moisture loss in the skin. It can be used neat on the skin and also makes an excellent massage base.