Analyzing Antioxidants

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Antioxidants can provide an extra layer of protection for your health

Written by Andrew Weil, M.D.

Antioxidants are micro-nutrients that protect tissues in the body. They do this by blocking harmful chemical reactions caused by oxidation, which is the destructive effect of oxygen (and other oxidizing agents) on the molecular components of our cells. Just as oxygen can cause metals to rust and corrode, it can pull electrons from organic molecules rendering them defective and useless.

Free Radicals

Also to be reckoned with are free radicals, electronically unstable atoms or molecules generated in the course of normal metabolism that also strip electrons from other molecules, causing chain reactions of oxidative damage. Cumulative damage of this sort probably accounts for many of the degenerative changes of aging and for a lot of age-related disease. Antioxidants block oxidation reactions and offer protection to the membranes and other parts of cells.

How to Get Antioxidants

In short, antioxidants can provide an extra layer of protection for your health. We need dietary antioxidants every day. A high-quality antioxidant that provides vitamins C, E and A and selenium can help address the damage caused by free radicals, boost immunity, help reduce stress-related fatigue and increase musculoskeletal and skin integrity. You can also get antioxidants by eating a variety of organic fruits and vegetables across the color spectrum; drinking green tea and red wine; and eating the occasional piece of dark chocolate.

Andy Weil, MD

As a practitioner and teacher of integrative medicine for the last thirty years, it has been my personal mission to drive research, education, and clinical practice to advance a philosophy of health that addresses mind, body, and spirit. I believe that integrative medicine is the future of medicine and health care.

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