Saturday, June 20, 2015

Understanding antioxidants & free radicals

What are antioxidants and free radicals? And should I take them for my skin?

Anything you swallow (pills included) will get into your bloodstream and affect your entire body. Although antioxidants can help your skin look its best, they are important and beneficial to much more than just your skin. I mention this because the mindset of taking supplements to affect one thing is akin to exercising to spot reduce a certain body part. It just can’t be done. Exercise will affect your whole body; antioxidants will too.

Before explaining what antioxidants are, it’s important to understand a bit about their nemesis: free radicals.

What is a free radical? Normally functioning molecules have two or three electrons; free radicals are missing one electron, making that molecule unstable. So they hunt for an electron they can take from a neighboring molecule. Free radicals aren’t particular—they attack the nearest stable molecule in order to create stability for itself. Free radicals are constantly searching to complete themselves with their missing half. Once the free radical finds its “mate,” it sets up a domino effect of scavenging. The molecule it took the electron from becomes unstable and has to steal another molecule’s electron. Each free radical that finds an electron in turn makes the molecule it stole from a free radical. It is an endless cycle of search and swipe, and so the vicious cycle continues.

Free radicals are necessary in certain amounts to promote circulation and other vital functions of the body. Smog, cigarette smoke, and poor food choices are some of the major causes of an overabundance of free radicals in our bodies. When they get out of hand, it’s time to bring in the heavy artillery. This is where antioxidants come into play. If you want to take care of your skin, you want to be sure your body has a good supply of these free radical-destroying nutrients.

Antioxidants. If free radicals cause damage in the body, antioxidants are their worst enemy. Antioxidants basically help to stop the domino effect of free radical scavenging and restore the normal, whole functioning of the cell both inside and out. In supplement form, there are many antioxidants to choose from. If you only take one, vitamin C for instance, you will still derive benefits that outweigh no supplementing at all, but used in combination, antioxidants form a stronger bond and thus a more potent effect.

In future post Antioxidant Sources, I will go over many supplements that you can take to be sure you are supplying your body with enough health-producing antioxidants, as well as whole food sources that you want to include in your diet.

Food sources containing antioxidants are numerous. Most fruits and vegetables have high antioxidant contents, as well as some fish like salmon, which is my all-time favorite. I encourage you to try to incorporate as many antioxidants as you can into your diet for optimal health of your entire body, including your skin.

For more information, see:
Juicing for Better Health