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What is anti-oxidant and free radicals
Vitamins that are anti-oxidants
Vitamin E
Other antioxidants
Soy Isoflavones

What is anti-oxidant and free radicals

Anti-oxidants fight free radicals. So what are free radicals? Free radicals play an important role, in both health and disease, and have been implicated in countless human disease processes.  Free radicals are vital to human health. These molecules (Reactive Oxidant  Species) are extremely important to human metabolic processes.

Any molecule can become a free radical by either losing or gaining an electron and molecules containing these uncoupled electrons are very reactive.  Once free radicals are initiated, they can propagate by becoming involved  in chain reactions with other less reactive types. The resulting chain reaction compounds generally survive longer in the body and therefore increase the potential  for cellular damage.

A free radical has three stages: the initiation stage,  propagation and finally, termination. They are terminated or neutralized, by nutrient antioxidants,  enzymatic mechanisms, or by recombining with each other. The aim is to attain  a delicate balance between free radical activity and optimum antioxidant  activity,  thereby achieving a state of balance (homeostasis).

The three known free radicals are hydroxyl, superoxide and peroxide. If they are not neutralized into "good oxygen", free radicals can speed up the aging process and play a major part in the development of degenerative and/or chronic diseases.  

(Free-radical damage. Created by normal body functions, free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and cell DNA. Doctors know from autopsy evidence that brain cells are particularly vulnerable. Researchers have tested the effect of a variety of so-called antioxidants--which neutralize free radicals--with mixed results. A substance called curcumin (from the herb turmeric) significantly improves brain function in animals with memory deficits, Cole said; so do preparations that include alpha-lipoic acid and vitamins C and E, to name a few.)

Vitamins that are anti-oxidants

Vitamins A, C and E are all anti oxidants.   Tests imply that 5000mg of vitamin E is an effective daily dose   Vitamin C is a more effective anti oxidant than vitamin E but passes through your system quickly and must be taken frequently throughout the day. 

Vitamin C is best taken at least two hours before or after meals and sugared drinks and/or first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Vitamin E

VITAMIN E occurs in food in several forms - alpha, beta, delta, and gamma-tocopherols and alpha, beta, delta and gamma tocotrienols. Most E supplements contain only the alpha tocopherol form because it is believed to have the greatest biological activity. Research at the University of California, Berkeley reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that gamma-tocopherol is able to quench certain free radicals that alpha-tocopherol does not. Of the E vitamins it has been stated that only gamma-tocopherol gets rid of peroxynitrite, a highly destructive nitric oxide radical. 

It has been suggested that high levels of alpha-tocopherol in the blood can *reduce* the level of the gamma form. Different tocopherol forms appear to have complementary but not identical functions.

Both alpha and gamma-tocopherol occur in natural Vitamin E, but the vitamin supplements generally sold as vitamin E contain only alpha-tocopherol, which may then displace gamma-tocopherol in the body. Gamma-tocopherol may be a more effective anti-oxidant than alpha-tocopherol. (Christen S., et al., Gamma-tocopherol traps mutagenic electrophiles such as NOx and complements alpha-tocopherol: Physiological implications. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, vol 94, pp. 3217-3222, Apr 1997.) An article can be accessed at:

A major new survey of 47 health studies concludes that Vitamin E plays not only an important role in preventing or alleviating neurological disorders, but that natural Vitamin E, as opposed to synthetic products, supplies far more concentration to the brain and other body tissues. Natural Vitamin E puts five times the concentration in the brain than does the synthetic version, the survey said. "The importance of Vitamin E in maintaining neurological structure and function has been well documented in clinical research."  summary of scientific studies from 1980 to 1997 concluded: "Long-term Vitamin E deficiency is associated with a progressive neurological syndrome that can be alleviated by Vitamin E therapy."

Comparing natural Vitamin E to synthetic, the survey said: "It appears that the nervous system has a marked preference for natural-source Vitamin E, which may be significant in treatment of neurological disorders.  Studies have demonstrated a preference for natural-source Vitamin E by various body tissues, including the brain and spinal cord, compared to synthetic Vitamin E" the survey said. "There was preferential uptake of natural-source Vitamin E by the lung, red blood cells, blood plasma and brain.  The brain showed the highest discrimination for natural-source Vitamin E. The concentration of natural source Vitamin E in the brain increased gradually to a five-fold higher concentration than the synthetic isomer after five months, suggesting that natural-source Vitamin E will be significantly more available to the brain than the equivalent intake of synthetic Vitamin E."

The study continued: "Oxidative damage has been implicated in a number of neurological disorders and diseases, and the majority of available research has demonstrated a protective role for Vitamin E ... Research shows that antioxidant therapy has "significantly beneficial effects in reducing associated disability," the survey said.

It has been suggested that vitamin E is best taken in the morning or during the day (never at night) and that it be taken at a different time to other supplements for best results. Avoid taking it with magnesium supplements.

TOCOTRIENOL is a much neglected component of vitamin E. In addition to the four tocopherols, another related series of compounds, tocotrienols, have been discovered which are less widely distributed in nature. While tocopherols are predominantly found in corn, soybean and olive oils, tocotrienols are particularly rich in palm, rice bran and barley oils. Therefore, vitamin E is the term used for eight naturally occurring essential fat-soluble nutrients: alpha,beta, delta & gamma tocopherols plus a class of compounds related to vitamin E called alpha, beta, delta and gamma tocotrienols. Comparatively, the tocotrienol structure differs by possessing three double bonds in their side chain rather than being saturated.

Tocotrienols have been shown to elicit powerful antioxidant, anti-cancer and cholesterol lowering properties. Some studies have confirmed that tocotrienol activity as an antioxidant, anti-cancer and cholesterol reducing substance to be much stronger than tocopherols. Tocotrienols were once thought to be of lesser nutritional value than the tocopherols, it is apparent that their activity and importance rank them as one of the most important class of nutritional compounds for the prevention and treatment of disease.

Please note: Extract from the book written by Lavon J Dunne, "Nutritional Almanac":
"Vitamin E has a tendancy to raise blood pressure when it is given in high doses to someone who is not accustomed to it. Therefore initial intake should be small, and as tolerance rises, the dosage should be gradually increased".

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Other antioxidants

PYCNOGENOL/OPC Grape seed/Pinebark extract provides a weapon against premature aging of living structures. Oxygen free radicals are believed to be responsible for the deterioration of these structures. The lengthening of life expectancy, observed for 50 years in the western world seems to have reached its limits: little by little we have found remedies for the accessible causes of aging. What remains is oxygen, of which nobody had thought 20 years ago and of which we now know constitutes life's principal wear and tear factor. Oxygen free radicals do have a physiological mission to accomplish: the burning of refuse matter, but we should prevent them destroying the sensitive structures of the living cell. OPC offers protection against oxygen free radicals supposes a long term, even permanent use of the scavenging antidote. Used in therapeutics for 40 years, it has never provoked direct or secondary effects of a toxic nature. This is hardly surprising because we find it in the various foods consumed since the beginning of history.  There is extensive information on the Internet about Pycnogenol and check here for information about OPC.

Curcumin A substance called  curcumin (from the herb turmeric) significantly improves brain function in animals with memory deficits, Cole said; so do preparations that include alpha-lipoic acid and vitamins C and E, to name a few.

Alpha-lipoic acid

COENZYME Q-10 Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) or ubiquinone is an essential cofactor of the electron transport chain as well as a potent free radical scavenger in lipid and mitochondrial membranes. Because of its strong antioxidant properties, coenzyme Q-10 is being tested in patients with degenerative neurological diseases, Parkinsons disease, Huntingtons disease, ALS/MND and multiple sclerosis at major medical centers, including the University of Rochester Medical School and the University of California at San Diego. The hope is that coenzyme Q-10 can slow down progression of the diseases. Andrew Weil, MD personally takes 100 milligrams of coenzyme Q-10 once a day with food as a general health-booster and feels it is harmless. Dr. Weil is a nationally-known physician and director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona and also a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School. He has published many books on health and healing. Dr. Weil's website is at :   Many studies suggests that Coenzyme Q10 may be better strategy than vitamin E in treatment of neuro-degenerative diseases in increasing survival time. Oral administration of coenzyme Q10 increases both brain and brain mitochondrial concentrations. The results provide further evidence that coenzyme Q10 can exert neuro-protective effects that might be useful in the treatment of neuro-degenerative diseases.

ASTAXANTHIN is a carotenoid compound usually made from a microalg called Haematococcus pluvialis. Some forms are indissoluble (many anti oxidants are fat or water soluble). As beta carotene (a preliminary stage of vitamin A) is sometimes recommended as an anti oxidant and Astaxanthin supplies carotenoids, it should be safe to take - although a precise dosage has yet to be established.

Astaxanthin has been claimed to be ten times more effective than beta carotene and 100 times more effective than vitamin E in preventing lipid peroxidation. However, as vitamin E and Astaxanthin possibly work in different ways it may be advisable to take both as they could complement each other.

CAROTENOIDS are a group of anti oxidant nutrients found in many fruits and vegetables. They are more easily absorbed in supplement form and even more effective if taken with  highly coloured fruits and vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, watermelon, beets, etc. high in carotenoids.  Like all anti oxidants, carotenoids work better in combination than if taken alone.  For example, betacarotene boosts the anti oxidant activity of lycopene (Wahlqvist, et al American  Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1994 Vol 60,936-943).  Carotenoids include Betacarotene, Alphacarotene, Cryptoxanthin, Lycopene, Lutein and Zeaxanthin.  Each performs a slightly different function at a different level and is dependant on other carotenoids for its effectiveness. Synthetic carotenoids have little biological effect and should be avoided.  Ensure you choose naturally derived carotenoids suspended in an oil base

PHENOLICS are naturally occurring anti oxidant substances found in the skins of many fruits, vegetables and herbs. Fruits and vegetables with brightly coloured skins are generally considered to be relatively high in phenolics as are the skins and seeds of the grapes (vitus vinifera) used to make red wine.

Tea study indicating that drinking tea may help prevent heart attacks and sudden cardiac death.

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