The Natural Danger of Free Radicals

We know that when iron gets wet, it undergoes a chemical process called oxidation
and we see a reddish coating, what we call rust.
Oxidation means that something has reacted with oxygen.
To be more specific, it means that oxygen molecules have lost an electron during
their interactions with other molecules.

These renegades become, what scientists call, free radicals, wounded, unstable
oxygen molecules that are just as dangerous as their name sounds.
In their quest to “heal” themselves, free radicals steal electrons from any healthy
molecule they can grab, creating more free radicals in the process.

Whenever oxygen mixes with other molecules, free radicals form as a byproduct.
Cut an apple, and the oxygen-exposed fruit becomes brown from free-radical damage.
Inhale, and you also have been exposed to free radicals.
In fact, every breath we take generates free radicals, which, as they seek to stabilze
themselves, damage our healthy cells.

And the damage that free radicals do is significant. More and more research is showing
that free-radical damage contributes to many major illnesses, including hardening of
the arteries, degenerative eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, certain cancers,
and even the aging process itself.

Free radicals occur naturally. The body produces them when it generate energy.
From the transformation of oxygen you breathe, into water, 1% turns into free radicals.
White blood cells also generate free radicals purposely, in order to heal invading bacteria & micro-organisms. Unfortunately, these free radicals also damage healthy tissue.

Staying in Balance
In keeping with the law of nature, for every force, there is a counter force.
The counter force of free radicals are antioxidants, which we find in vitamin C & E
and betacarotene.  They act as a buffer between free radicals and your body’s healthy

In addition to free radicals generated in our body, there are also huge numbers in our
environment. Chemicals from various sources in our homes, cigaret smoke, car exhaust etc.
It all add up to a huge amount of free radicals and antioxidants in your body have a
hard time to keep up.
It takes one-third of the Daily  Value of vitamin C – 2o milligram – to neutrolize
the effect of just one cigaret.

The Damage they do
Once free radicals are running rampant, they can launch attacks and cause damage
almost anywhere in the body. “The best example of the damage free radicals can cause
is artheroclerosis, or hardening of the arteries,” says Dr. Frei.
“It’s well-documented that free radicals contribute to this disease.”

Scientists have found that free radical damage is the reason that LDL cholesterol
begins to stick to artery walls in the first place.
Free radicals can also attack your DNA. The damage may cause changes in the DNA
that cause them to replicate uncontrollable. In other words, they become cancerous,
says Dr. Frei.

Free radicals can also cause damage to your eyes. Researchers from Harvard Medical School found a strong link between macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in people over 50, and free radical damage.

Sunshine contains a tremendous amount of dangerous ultraviolet light, one of the leading producers of free radicals.
Your skin also suffer under the sun’s UV light and cause wrinkles, skin thickening and other symptoms of premature skin aging.

It appears that free radicals may also be one of the keys to unlock the mysterious neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Some scientists believe that free radicals may actually poke holes in the barrier
that usually shields the brain from outside invaders, like viruses and bacteria.
In response to the injury, researchers believe  that the immune system produces
even more free radicals, which may cause damage, leading to neurological disease.

“Very often, free radicals aren’t involved in initiating  the disease,.”Dr. Jenkens
adds, “but the free radicals that result from the disease  keep the damage going.”
Such is the case with rheumatoid arthritis. The inflammation within effected joints
creates free radicals, which seems to do more damage than the actual disease itself.

The same can be said from many digestive diseases. Free radicals may not be the
cause of Crohn’s disease, for instance, but they definitely contribute to the damage.

Fighting Free Radicals
For optimum antioxidant protection against free radicals, Dr. Jenkens suggests
that people increase their intake  of vitamin C to between 200 and 400 mg and
that of vitamin E  to between 200 and 400 IU.

The Mega Antioxidants in the USANA Essentials contain 325 mg vitamin C and
vitamin E  100 IU per tablet. It is recommended to take 4 tablets per day.
Some research has also shown that people with the highest intake of carotenoids
– plant compounds that are powerful antioxidants – have lower rates of macular

And a Dutch Study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
looked at the relationship between dietary intake of vitamin E and C, zinc and
beta-carotene and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in more than 4000
older adults at risk for the condition.  A high intake of all four nutrients was
associated with a 35% decrease in AMD risk , indicating that all four antioxidants
are protective.

Some of the best food sources of antioxidants compounds include vitamin C-
packed citrus fruits, red and green bell peppers, and dark green leafy vegetables,
beta-carotene-rich carrots, sweet potatoes,  spinach, wheat germ and vegetable
oils, which are loaded with vitamin E

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