2 weeks ago
ANTIOXIDANTS are compounds that lessen or prevent the effects of FREE RADICALS. But what are free radicals?
We’re going to get a bit nerdy here, 👩🏫 BARE WITH ME. Atoms, the basic building blocks of matter, are surrounded by electrons that circle around them. Electrons like to be in pairs, so when an atom has an unpaired electron (for causes, see below), this is called a FREE RADICAL. These free radicals scavenge the body to seek out other electrons from other molecules so they can pair up. Free radicals are unstable and quickly react with other substances. If these reactions keep happening, it begins a process called OXIDATIVE STRESS 😬. Oxidative stress leads to cell and tissue damage, and also plays a role in the aging process.
As the body ages, it loses its ability to fight the effects of free radicals. The means: more free radicals, more oxidative stress, and more damage to cells. Although free radicals are produced naturally in the body as we age, lifestyle factors can accelerate their production (ie. smoking, alcohol, and sun exposure). So back to ANTIOXIDANTS 👏. These are molecules that prevent or lessen the effects of free radicals. They donate an electron to free radicals, thereby reducing their reactivity. What makes antioxidants unique is that they can donate an electron without becoming reactive free radicals themselves!
No single antioxidant can combat the effects of every free radical. Just as free radicals have different effects in different areas of the body, every antioxidant behaves differently due to its chemical properties.
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