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Antioxidants, Part I

June 4, 2009


Howdy, all. Have you ever heard of an “antioxidant” and wondered exactly what an antioxidant is? Well, if so, look no further! In this post, light will be shed on the mystery that is the antioxidant. In short, antioxidants play the role of the “good guys” in continual battle going on in your body. Before describing them however, let’s first talk about the “bad guys” — free radicals.

We (humans) get our energy from the food we eat. That food is made up of one or more of the macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats). The macronutrients are made up of atoms (hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, and/or nitrgen). The atoms link to each other by sharing electrons (kind of like holding hands). Each atom has a specific number of electron bonds (hands). A free radical is formed when one of those hands is not held, i.e. an electron is unpaired. These free radicals can truly be bad guys. They serve vital, normal functions, but can also damage cells and lead to cancer, aging, and degenerative disease.

When we burn energy, oxygen is consumed by our cells. Most of the oxygen combines with hydrogen to produce water. However, 2 to 5% of the oxygen forms “free radicals”. Fortunately, our bodies contain mechanisms that work to immediately counter potential damage from free radicals. Those mechanisms are (drum roll!) the antioxidants! Antioxidants scavenge or chemically eradicate free radicals, and we will talk about where you can get these “good guys”…tomorrow.

Until then, much fitness, health, and success to YOU!

Darryl

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