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The Relationship between Free Radicals and Antioxidants.

Why are Antioxidants so important and why does our body need them?

Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidation by donating electrons to atoms that neutralise free radical damage and protect against cell damage. So our cells need them for protection.

The causes of oxidative stress include lifestyle choices like sleep deprivation, diet, exercise, pollutants, alcohol, smoking and illness. They can be difficult to avoid, therefore, a constant supply is essential to help maintain health and function of cells.

Free Radicals cause oxidative stress by stealing electrons from atoms making unstable molecules which cause damage to our cells, for example, the cell membrane and DNA which interferes with the regular processes of the cell.

This, in turn, causes inflammation leading to tissue damage and speeds up the ageing processes of the skin resulting in damage to collagen and elastin among other beneficial structures of the skin.

We require a variety of antioxidants to protect different types of radical damage, including lipid soluble eg Vitamin E, water-soluble, eg Vitamin C.

Thankfully the cellular damage and oxidative stress can be limited by including antioxidants reducing chain reactions and the amount of cellular damage.

Essentially without a varied and constant supply of antioxidants, the cells of the body are exposed to the risk of damage to their proteins, and DNA, which can contribute to ageing.

Janet Muller