Any article on health related issues would make a mention about antioxidants. Talk about aging, cancer, arthritis and many more diseases, antioxidants are known to play a major role in preventing them.
Every now and then our body is exposed to environmental toxins like pollutants from automobiles and factories, cigarette smoking, sunlight, stress, metallurgical processes etc. All these lead to the development of molecules called ‘free radicals’ within the body. These free radical molecules are chemically very active and have either negative or positive charge due to excess or deficient electrons respectively. There are many free radicals of which the ones containing oxygen is significant. They are referred to as ROS (reactive oxygen species). As they are very reactive and possess one or more unpaired electrons, they react with the cells of our body to remove or accept electrons, thereby damaging them. Not just cells but also the genetic material possessed by the cells (DNA).
It is impossible to stop the creation of free radicals. The damaging effects of the free radicals are irreversible leading to aging and diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke and many more.
The reaction of oxygen with other substances is called oxidation. Now in order to prevent the free radicals oxidizing the cells of the body, antioxidants come into picture. These are a mixture of vitamins, minerals and proteins that react with and neutralize the free radicals. They occur naturally within the body and also available in the form of man-made supplements. Vegetables, fruits and grains are rich sources of antioxidants. Antioxidant supplements should only be taken when prescribed by doctors.