To understand the importance of antioxidants, you need some basic facts to get you up to speed. For more detailed information, click on each fact heading.
Antioxidant Fact #1: What are antioxidants?
Basically, antioxidants are compounds that protect other compounds from the damaging effects of oxygen. Yes, oxygen. That all important element that we couldn't live without. Ironically, it's also the main source of destruction to your body. To understand this you need to understand...
Antioxidant Fact #2: Free Radicals and Antioxidants
Without getting into the technical explanation, free radicals are highly reactive particles that damage everything they come into contact with. They're responsible for all the signs and symptoms we normally associate with aging... AND the development of almost every disease you can think of. Find out more about the free radical theory of aging and disease.
Antioxidant Fact #3: How do antioxidants work?
Antioxidants basically change the free radical into a harmless molecule. They neutralize it before it touches something in the cell, which would damage it. Which brings us to...
Antioxidant Fact #4: Why are Antioxidants important?
Without antioxidants, free radicals would cause so much damage that your cell's repair systems couldn't keep up. So what? After years of this constant destruction, it becomes your health problem. Wherever most of the damage happened is what health problem you'll have. If it's in your blood vessels, you'll get cardiovascular disease. If it's in your brain, you'll get Alzheimer's. If it's in your eyes, you'll get cataracts or macular degeneration...
Antioxidant Fact #5: The Roles of Antioxidants
Not all antioxidants are created equal. Each one "lives" in a different part of your cell, so you need lots of different ones to get full protection. Antioxidants also need other antioxidants to work properly, so you don't get the full benefit if you only have a few.
Antioxidant Fact #6: What is ORAC?
ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It's a measure of the antioxidant capacity of different foods or nutritional supplements. The ORAC value gives a rough guide to the potential of an antioxidant and is useful for comparing antioxidants. BUT it shouldn't be relied on too much because it doesn't always reflect "real-life" situations.