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What Are Antioxidants

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

All living organisms utilize oxygen to metabolize and use the dietary nutrients in order to produce energy for survival. Oxygen thus is a vital component for living. Oxygen meditates chemical reactions that metabolize fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to produce energy.

Dark side of oxygen

While oxygen is one of the most essential components for living, it is also a double edged sword. Oxygen is a highly reactive atom that is capable of becoming part of potentially damaging molecules commonly called “free radicals.”antioxidants heart shaped

Free radicals
These free radicals are capable of attacking the healthy cells of the body. This may lead to damage, disease and severe disorders. Cell damage caused by free radicals appears to be a major contributor to aging and diseases like:

• cancer
• heart disease
• decline in brain function
• decline in immune system etc.

Overall, free radicals have been implicated in the pathogenesis of at least 50 diseases.

Since free radicals contain an unpaired electron they are unstable and reach out and capture electrons from other substances in order to neutralize themselves. This initially stabilizes the free radical but generates another in the process. Soon a chain reaction begins and thousands of free radical reactions can occur within a few seconds on the primary reaction.

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