Like an excellent housekeeper, "mopping up free radicals before they get a chance to harm your body."*
Oxidation — A Natural Chemical Reaction
To understand how antioxidants work, you must first understand oxidation. We have all seen a copper penny turn green and a fender on a car rust. We have also all seen how, after biting into an apple, the pulp turns from white to brown when the apple is left exposed to the air for too long. This happens because oxygen reacts with the pulp, causing it to discolor. This is called oxidation – when oxygen interacts with substances, from metals to living tissue.
Oxygen — The Dual-Edged Sword
We depend on oxygen for our survival, but oxygen is also a forceful molecule that is capable of reacting negatively with other molecules. The discoloration of the apple is an example of the wear and tear that happens when oxygen reacts with living molecules. Without some type of protection against the oxygen in the air, the pulp of the apple is assaulted by it. While oxygen is essential for health, it is also capable of producing molecules called oxygen "free radicals." When you don't have enough "antioxidant defense mechanisms" against these free radicals, your health can be compromised in much the same manner as the apple discolors.
Free Radicals vs. Antioxidants — Like a "Mini-War"
Antioxidants can be enzymes, vitamins, bioflavonoids, minerals, and other substances that can provide protection from the damaging effects of free radicals.* Imagine a "mini-war" in which your body is the battlefield. Inside you, the attacking forces (the free radicals) are aggressively fighting the protective forces (the antioxidants). Over 100 adverse health conditions have been associated with excessive free-radical activity.* Free radicals affect every part of your body, from your eyes and skin, to your circulatory system and immune system, even to the way your body recovers from a wound.*
Kinds of Antioxidants — Targeted Protection
While antioxidants have broad activity within all cells or cell membranes of the body, certain antioxidant nutrients and botanicals appear to have a particular affinity for certain bodily tissues. The following list represents a very generalized approach to identifying tissue specificity, but by no means is it an exhaustive list of the organs or tissues that can benefit from a particular kind of antioxidant.alpha-Lipoic acid
– is an antioxidant in both fat-soluble and water-soluble environments so it can benefit all body tissues, although it has a special affinity for the liver and nerves.*Bilberry
– has a particular affinity for the eyes, especially the retina.*Coenzyme Q10
– has a particular affinity for the energy-producing powerhouses (mitochondria) in every cell of the body.*Curcumin
– the primary flavonoid in the spice turmeric, has special affinities for the liver, GI tract, and musculoskeletal system.*Ginkgo
– contains important antioxidant flavonoids with particular affinity for the brain and circulatory system.*Glutathione
– is produced in the body and has special importance for the liver and brain.*Grape seed extract
– sometimes referred to as OPCs, has a special affinity for the blood vessels and collagen support.*Green tea extract
– provides special antioxidant protection for the skin from ultraviolet radiation and helps with normal cell formation.*Milk thistle extract
– has a special affinity for the liver.*Quercetin
– a flavonoid found in hundreds of fruits, vegetables, and other plants, has particular affinity for the mucus membranes of the respiratory tract.*Selenium
– works with glutathione in the body and protects cell membranes from oxidation.*Vitamin C
– is an antioxidant in water-soluble environments in the body such as the cell interior.*Vitamin E
– an antioxidant in fat-soluble environments in the body such as the cell membrane, prevents oxidation of cholesterol for cardiovascular support.*Zinc
– is a cofactor for the antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD) that is produced in the body and also helps prevent oxidative damage from too much iron.*
Obtaining Antioxidants — The Natural Way
Antioxidants are plentiful in such common vitamins as vitamin A, ascorbic acid or vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. Research confirms that a balanced diet rich in whole-grain cereals, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables can provide the essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients that promote the good health of a number of the body's systems, including cardiovascular health, immune health, connective tissue health, cognitive health, and gingival health.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, most Americans don't consume the "five-a-day recommended servings of fruits and vegetables." To ensure you are providing your body with adequate protection from free-radical damage, it makes sense to supplement your diet with a range of vitamin, mineral, and herbal antioxidants.*
Other Things to Consider — Sunscreen on the Inside
Avoid processed foods as much as possible. Try to eat plenty of fresh, organic whole foods, especially a variety of richly colored fresh fruits and vegetables. Sweet or purple potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, spinach, cantaloupe, blueberries, raspberries, and mangoes are great sources of antioxidants. Plants make antioxidants to protect themselves from the sun's ultraviolet radiation, so when we eat colorful fruits and vegetables those same pigments (or colorings) can protect us, too. Typically speaking, the deeper and richer the color of a fruit or vegetable, the more potent are its antioxidant properties.
Make an effort to reduce or eliminate cigarette smoking and exposure to toxic chemicals (e.g., household cleaners, petrochemicals, etc.).
Take high quality, pure dietary supplements recommended by your health-care practitioner.
Some of the Antioxidant Products Available From Thorne Research
Ask your health-care practitioner about the following dietary supplements. They have been manufactured to provide a broad spectrum of antioxidants in amounts designed to meet your individual oxidant needs.*
Anti-Oxidant has long been one of Thorne Research's best sellers. Instead of the basic A, C, E, selenium combination, Anti-Oxidant provides nutrients that support the body during liver and systemic detoxification.* Vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, zinc, and selenium work collectively as cofactors in many enzyme systems to support metabolism and detoxification.* Vitamin C directly protects fat-soluble vitamins A and E and some B vitamins from oxidation.*
Planti-Oxidants is a combination of several of the best-researched flavonoid compounds, including silybin from milk thistle (Silybum marianum
) as Siliphos, polyphenolic catechins from green tea as Greenselect Phytosome, OPCs from grape seed extract as Leucoselect Phytosome, anthocyanidins from bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus
), and Thorne Research's patented flavonoid, quercetin chalcone. These powerful plant-based antioxidants enhance the activity of nutrient-based antioxidants.*
Meriva-SR is a unique, patented time-release curcumin product available exclusively from Thorne Research. People throughout Asia have benefited from the healthful effects of curcumin for centuries. Curcumin is the orange pigment in turmeric (the primary ingredient in curry), and is a potent antioxidant that offers numerous health benefits, including supporting joint health and liver function, and helping to maintain the body's normal inflammatory response.*
This is a biological antioxidant containing alpha-lipoic acid (also known as thioctic acid) that is readily absorbed.* R-Lipoic acid is a very versatile antioxidant that can provide benefit in all tissues of the body and R-Lipoic is the most active form.*
Extra Nutrients is a comprehensive daily multiple vitamin-mineral formula that provides the added benefits of these important antioxidants: reduced glutathione, R-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, and hesperidin methyl chalcone.* Extra Nutrients is ideal for the person who needs extra antioxidant support,* such as athletes, the aging, and individuals living in a particularly toxic environment.
As an antioxidant, Glutathione directly quenches several types of free radicals.* The normal process of aging is associated with a decrease in glutathione production, which can result in increased oxidative activity.* Glutathione-SR from Thorne Research represents an important breakthrough in glutathione supplementation.
Green Tea Phytosomes
A powerful antioxidant, Greenselect Phytosome contains a highly bioavailable complex of green tea polyphenols bound to phosphatidylcholine for enhanced absorption.*
Thorne Research also provides many other individual antioxidants, including CoQ100 Softgels (well-absorbed coenzyme Q10 in rice bran oil), OPC-100 (grape seed extract), Vacimyr (bilberry extract), Siliphos (milk thistle extract bound to phosphatidylcholine for enhanced absorption), Quercetone (quercetin chalcone), Ultimate-E (vitamin E as mixed tocopherols), E-500 (water-soluble form of vitamin E), Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C in 500-mg and 1,000-mg capsules), Zinc (as picolinate or citrate chelates), Selenium (as picolinate or citrate chelates), and GB-24 (a potent Ginkgo extract).*
How do I Choose? Determine Your Needs
While antioxidants and vitamins are good for everyone,* your lifestyle and several other factors will affect your specific needs. Is there any specific body system you are seeking to support, such as eye health or connective tissue support? Find a brand of dietary supplements that you like and trust. In addition to ease of availability, it is important to find a brand you know is reputable.
Your health-care practitioner should be able to answer your questions and recommend the appropriate products and the suggested use of antioxidant supplements for you, as well as help guide you toward a healthy diet and an appropriate exercise program.