Antioxidant-Free radical scavengers
'Antioxidant' also known as free radical scavengers are the substances which prevent the cells from free radicals. The free radicals are the unstable random molecules produced by the body as a result of external or internal pressure to it by the environment or other sources.
The free radicals also called reactive oxygen species are the waste substance produced by the cells of the body, as they react with food and environment leads to oxidative stress that harms the health and functions of the body. In this article, we are discussing the benefits, types, and sources of antioxidants to overcome oxidative stress.
The factors that are responsible for the production of free radicals are inflammations internally and externally by pollution, exposure to UV rays and cigarette smoking, as a result, it causes oxidative stress which further leads to respiratory diseases, heart diseases, immune deficiency, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
- The antioxidant is the protecting barriers for our body against the free radicals which cause the oxidative stress.
- The activities or actions that cause oxidative stress are by eating certain foods such as refined/processed foods, trans fat, artificial, and additives. Exposure to radiations and chemicals, environmental pollutions and smoking cigarette.
- These activities release excess of iron or copper ions, activates WBC cells named phagocytes, disturb the transport chain of electrons, produces enzymes that great free radicals. All of the above finally ends up in oxidative stress.
- Intaking antioxidants promises to reduce the risk of oxidative stress to a maximum extent.
- Antioxidants act as free radical scavengers,hydrogen and electron donor, peroxide decomposer, oxygen quencher, an enzyme inhibitor, synergist and metal chelating agent as mentioned in a study by National Center for Biotechnology Information.
- Antioxidant supplements not only prevent oxidative stress but also reduce the vision loss due to aging in older people.
- However, there may be still a lack of evidence that intake of specific antioxidant supplements for a particular disease have not given the desired results in some cases.
Types of antioxidants:
- There are numerous antioxidant substances, each has its own style of function that helps our body to function effectively.
- The antioxidant is not a single substance, it is a range of substances present in our food or supplements broadly classified as,
- Enzymatic antioxidants: The superoxide released by processes such as phosphorylation is first converted into hydrogen peroxide and then further to water. This results in the release of multiple enzymes which acts as the antioxidants, in the presence of the catalyst superoxide dismutase, then catalase and various peroxidase along with glutathione peroxidases as a step by step reaction for removing hydrogen peroxide.
- Non-Enzymatic antioxidants: The non-enzymatic antioxidant includes,
- Ascorbic acid
- Tocopherols and tocotrienols
- Uric acid
- Ascorbic acid is a “vitamin C”-monosaccharide antioxidant present in both animals and plants. Should be obtained as vitamin C in the diet.
- Glutathione is a cysteine-containing peptide,is synthesized in the cells by its constituent amino acids.
- Melatonin, chemically known as N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine is a hormone naturally found in animals and some living beings like algae. Powerful antioxidant among the others which forms stable end products when reacting with free radicals.
- Tocopherols and tocotrienols is a set of 8 compounds collectively called as “Vitamin E”, which is fat soluble vitamin with high antioxidant properties.
- Uric acid has half the antioxidant ability of plasma, can also mediate the production of active oxygen species.
Sources of antioxidants:
- The best source of antioxidants generally comes from the plant kingdom, mainly from fruits and vegetables.
- Foods rich in antioxidants can be called as functional or superfood. Such as,
- Vitamin A - Dairy products and eggs.
- Vitamin C - Mostly in fruits, especially blueberries,oranges,etc.,
- Vitamin E - Green and leafy vegetables, Vegetable oils and in nuts and grains.
- Beta-carotene - Brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as mangoes, carrot, peas, and spinaches.
- Lycopene - Tomato and watermelons and all other pinkish or reddish fruits and vegetables.
- Lutein - Papaya, Papaya extract, Corn and leafy vegetables.
- Selenium- Rice, Corn, wheat and all grains including nuts, cheese, eggs, and legumes.
These are some the source of antioxidant vitamins and antioxidant foods.
Foods very rich in antioxidants:
- Pomegranates, apples, red grapes and blueberries
- Broccoli, spinach, kidney beans and black beans
- Green tea
- Red grapes
- Dark chocolates
- Usually, the foods which are rich in antioxidants will be vibrantly colored like pomegranates, which is the richest source of antioxidant among others.
Free radicals damage contributes to many chronic health problems such as cardiovascular and inflammatory disease, cataract, and cancer. Antioxidants prevent these free radicals damage by scavenging them or by decomposing it.
Synthetic antioxidants are recently reported to be dangerous to human health. Thus the search for effective, nontoxic natural compounds with antioxidative activity or use herbal supplements as best antioxidant supplements.