Antioxidants are molecular substances found in the food we eat, they are associated with anti-ageing and quenching of free radicals. Everyday oxidation takes place inside trillions of cells inside the body.
This happens to break down nutrients to be supplied to all organ systems and excrete waste products. The bad news is, every time the cells use up oxygen to do these, they produce chemicals called free radicals that contribute to the ageing process.
Here is where the antioxidants come in; the antioxidants quench these free radicals just like the principle in putting off fire using water.
However, the amount of antioxidants produced inside the body becomes constantly depleted due to several factors like poor eating habits, smoking and stress.
There are several known antioxidant sources that we have like Vitamin A, C and E found in fruits and vegetables. These are just few of them as there are thousands of plants that contain several antioxidant properties and are now being marketed as food and nutritional supplements.
The question is, do these antioxidants found in food supplements enough to combat the free radicals?
An analytical technique was introduced to rate the free radical-quenching capacity of food and food supplements called the ORAC or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity that was introduced in 1993 by U.S. researchers at the National Institute of Ageing. But, several studies showed that the ORAC content in these food supplements may have significant limitations due to the digestive processes it undergoes from the mouth until it reaches the cellular level.
Another study From the Department of Epidemiology, Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Department of Medicine in Johns Hopkins University had an interesting discussion and conclusion that “No synergistic effects of these 2 vitamins (C and E) on lipid peroxidation were observed” and “Supplementation with a combination of vitamins C and E conferred no benefit beyond that of either vitamin alone”.
If you are then to analyze, do these food supplements really help? Another interesting development in the work of antioxidants is the discovery that there are food supplements that stimulate the body’s own release of the three enzymes capable of quenching free radicals by and large.
These three enzymes are (SOD) Superoxide dismutase, Glutathione peroxidise and Catalase. The truth is our own body is capable of producing enough antioxidants to quench the free radicals; it’s just a matter of discovering how to stimulate our own enzymes to do the job.