The Body Protective Mechanisms
First off there are enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and glutathione reductase, to name a few of the substances found in the body that can help repair cell damage.
But that's only as far as repair is concerned.
What about controlling free radicals in the form of prevention?
Antioxidants: Natural Enemies of Free Radicals
A very common term thrown around when it comes to the cause of disease and illness is Oxidative Stress. This simply means the balance between Free Radicals and Antioxidants is leaning toward higher amounts of Free Radicals and insufficient levels of Antioxidants.
Now, this is where increasing the amounts of antioxidants in our diets is so important. Antioxidant support plays a major role in the defense mechanisms of the body.
What Do Antioxidants Do?
Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals. Antioxidants do this by donating one of their own electrons, thus ending the electron-"stealing" reaction.
The most common antioxidant supports are in the form of vitamins, specifically vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Also, Carotenes and lipoic acid are well-known and well-researched antioxidant nutrients. In addition, there is good evidence that bilirubin and uric acid can act as antioxidant support to help neutralize certain free radicals.
Our body can manufacture some of these antioxidants, but not others. And our body's natural antioxidant production tends to decline with age, making healthy antioxidant-rich diets even more important as we age.
Antioxidant support can be found in almost everything that we eat. More particularly, fresh fruits and vegetables are the richest sources of antioxidant support available.
For instance, the antioxidant support Retinol or Vitamin A (or beta-carotene) are found in dark green, yellow, and orange vegetables and fruits.
In fact, it is the antioxidant support found in these fruits that protect them from solar radiation damage.
Another antioxidant support, ascorbic acid or Vitamin C is a water-soluble compound that is found in citrus fruits, green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries, raw cabbage, and tomatoes.
The FIRST and the BEST Place to Look for Antioxidants will be fresh locally or personally grown, high quality organic whole foods!
Of course, high-quality antioxidant supplements have been shown to be beneficial.
You can check the ORAC values of foods here (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).
Which Antioxidants Do We Need?
I found this Quote from Dr. Richard Passwater:
"Combinations of antioxidants are like a balanced symphony working together. A symphony orchestra produces sounds so much more harmonious than merely having 20 drums playing. It is not the quantity, but the blend. The same is true with antioxidant nutrients: you get better results with moderate amounts of a full complement than you get with using very large amounts of just one nutrient...For this reason, most of us in the field recommend that a person take a variety of antioxidants (a "cocktail"), not just a single substance.
The importance of synergism is that the antioxidant nutrients each contribute to the total protection. They work together in the antioxidant cycle and reach all body compartments--fat and water-based, blood and internal cell. They protect against all types of free radicals and reactive oxygen species. No one antioxidant can do all of this."
My Personal Favorites Sources for Antioxidants other than the First and Best Choice:
To Your Health,