We have all been bombarded with advertisements and media reports about antioxidants in various forms being heralded as everything from the fountain of youth to protection from our own bad habits. Along with the news on antioxidants comes the message that free radicals (what antioxidants neutralize) are evil and we should do everything we can to stop their production. Stopping the production of free radicals in your body is easy. So easy in fact, that all you have to do is stop breathing forever… it’s that easy. Obviously we are not supposed to completely stop the production of free radicals, so this must be one of those situations where a delicate balance must be achieved.
So why all the hype? First, free radicals are substances that have an unpaired leectron which enables them to be highly reactive and in some biological situations, highly damaging. Antioxidants are substances that have reduction capability and thus end the free radical chain reactions and in effect neutralize the radical intermediates of oxidative reactions…blah blah blah. All that big chemistry talk means is that if free radicals are a fire spreading out of control, then antioxidants are the water used to control and eventually put the fire out. Free radicals happen every day during normal chemical reactions in our bodies; their production is accelerated during times of stress, illness, exercise or toxic exposure. A healthy, varied diet of whole, raw, live foods, espeically with a rainbow of colors, should be all that is needed to provide an ample dose of antioxidants to combat a normal production of free radicals. Few of us however, live a life devoid of stress, illness, and exercise or toxic exposures. These necessitate a supplemental increase in our antioxidant intake. Most of us also do not consume a rich and varied diet of brightly colored raw foods on a regular basis. The market is saturated with the next big miracle antioxidant. What we have to realize is that certain antioxidants work in certain circumstances and under certain conditions to neutralize certain free radicals. We need a variety of antioxidant nutrients from a variety of sources to combat all the free radical variables (i.e., ones we ingest, breath, absorb, etc). It’s not enough to take a big load of Resvertatrol and think that it is taking care of all your antioxidant needs. As the saying goes “variety is the spice of life.” An antioxidant supplement that is whole food based and provides many different types of antioxidants is the best bet to combat the free radical onslaught of daily life.