we are discussing antioxidants we are referring to vitamins A (perhaps
in the form of beta carotene) E and C, selenium and zinc. There are
others that have less salient roles as antioxidants.
An antioxidant is a
compound that protects other compounds from oxidation by donating an
electron to another substance and thereby being oxidized itself. In
doing this it does not become unstable (a free radical) as it is stable
in either form. This oxidative damage has been linked to many of the
diseases we associate with aging, i.e., cancers, arthritis, cataracts
and heart disease. Scientist speculate that as we age our defense
system become increasingly less efficient in controlling damage done by
would seem beta carotene and vitamin E protect the body from damage
done to the lipids. This protection decreases risk of certain types of
cancers by protecting damage done do to cellular DNA. Heart disease is
also decreased by inhibiting oxidative damage to LDL and
polyunsaturated fatty acids of the cell membranes. In fact, studies
show that supplementation with E and C eliminates free radical damage
within the arterial walls. It would also seem that in addition to
working synergistically with vitamin E in protecting oxidation in the
arteries, vitamin C also protects the body's watery components, such as
the fluid of the blood. A primary success for vitamin C is in
neutralizing free radical damage from cigarette smoke and polluted air.
Lastly, it also restores oxidative vitamin E to its active state.