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Free Radicals - Role of Antioxidants in Health Improvement
Free radicals are the most reactive molecules in the body and are produced as a result of various biochemical reactions within the body. These Free radicals are the molecules with an unpaired electron, and this makes it very reactive in nature. Free radicals are very essentials in many biochemical reactions such as killing bacteria in granulocytes. Free radicals like superoxide are mostly found in higher number and are highly unstable and can damage cell structure by reacting with the lipid bi-layer. This may cause cell injury or even cell death in the organ of organism. At the same if level of free radicals is more in the cell, it may causes the oxidative stress which may results in to more cell death, damage or may cause mutation in DNA, RNA. Free radical is also the major contributor in cancer, various disorders, atherosclerosis, ageing, and in inflammatory diseases. Free Radicals inhibit the antitrypsin which causes the lung emphysema.

In body of living organism brain is always at high risk. Free radicals can react quickly with the polyunsaturated lipids and cause more damage to the brains cells. To avoids the brain injury or trauma conditions usually strong antioxidants are used to reduce the oxidative stress from brain. Level of free radicals increases during cancer, Parkinson’s and in Alzheimer’s disease. In neuropsychiatric illness level of free radicals are very high and they creates additional motor disorders. Increased level of free radicals in body is not only during disorders or diseases. It is observed that stressful condition, smoking, toxic chemicals, pollutions are also contributors in increasing level of free radicals in body. Therefore to be healthy one should have control of these factors and should follow healthy lifestyle.

Free radicals are important to body at certain level, so in nature body have developed a natural mechanism to maintain the optimum level of free radicals. Many antioxidants are formed in the body like catalase, superoxide dismutase etc., also many vitamins play the role of antioxidants in body such as Vitamin C, Vitamins E, Beta-carotene etc. all serve as a Antioxidants in the body and neutralize the bad effect of free radicals. Antioxidants are either nutritive or non nutritive in nature. Bilirubin and uric acid also play a role of antioxidants. They take parts in various biochemical reactions, while keeping optimum level of Bilirubin and uric acid to avoid jaundice and gout respectively.

High intensity, colorful fruits, vegetables are the naturals source of Antioxidants available in the nature. Antioxidants help in improving immune system of the body. Research has proved that antioxidants help in reducing toxicity, help in would heal by increasing the rate of cell generation. Antioxidants help to reduce osteoporosis of bone, helps in keeping arteries free from any damage. Antioxidants keeps the cell cycle normal, helps in preventing the damage to DNA, RNA. Antioxidants are also used as preservatives in many food products and in many cosmetic products.

Now days many pharmaceuticals companies have launch many products which have a combination of vitamins, minerals and many antioxidants as a part supplements. Strong antioxidants are also used as prophylactic treatment in fertility related disorders in body, research has proved that high amount of consumption of antioxidants have help in improve count of sperms in male.

Antioxidants are now used in acute CNS treatments, Lipoic adic is being considered as antioxidants. Antioxidant as it helps in fighting the ageing process. Lipoic acid reduces the oxidative stress from the cells of eye, myocardial cell, and so help in preventing from heart attack and cataracts. Antioxidants are used in treating the fried Reich ataxia which causes nervous system damage. Recent studies have proven that selenium is used as cancer preventing antioxidants. Lycopene is strong antioxidants now a day’s used in treating cancer. Lanthanides are also used for treating cancers. Antioxidants help in keeping erythrocytes in healthy condition by preventing them from free radicals. Antioxidants also help preventing coronary artery disease. Use of antioxidants has help in preventing the side effect’s caused by the chemotherapy used in cancer treatment and had shown less acidity related problem in patients. Therefore antioxidants play a vital role for improving health and in treatments of numerous malignant and cardio logical related diseases.
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Antioxidants are capable of stabilizing, or deactivating, free radicals before they attack cells. Antioxidants are absolutely critical for maintaining optimal cellular and systemic health and well-being.

They can be classified in to a variety of categories depending on the basis of solubility, mode of action etc.

On the basis of solubility
(a). Hydrophilic antioxidants:- They are soluble in water. Water soluble antioxidants react with oxidants react with oxidants in the cell cytoplasm and blood plasma.

(b). Hydrophobic antioxidants:- They are soluble in lipids. Lipid soluble antioxidants protect cell membranes from lipid peroxidation.

On the basis of line of defense

(a). First line defense (preventive antioxidant):- They intercept the free radicals or sequester them before any damage can be done. They work in one out of three ways – deactivating metals (transferring) , quenching superoxide ions ( bilirubin) and removing hydroperoxidases(catalase) . E.g. Superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GTX), glutathione reductase.

(b). Second line defense (Radical scavenging antioxidant):- These are basically chain breaking antioxidants that react with peroxyl radicals . Their mode of action can be as a donor molecule ( ascorbic acid) or as a sacrificial antioxidant ( uric acid). Examples include tocopherol, glutathione, etc. In order to be a good chain breaking antioxidant it is essential that the antioxidant decay be harmless, recyclable and it shouldn’t react with singlet oxygen itself to form a peroxyl radical.

(c ). Third line defense (Repair and de-novo enzymes):- These are a group of enzymes for repair of damaged DNA, protein, oxidized lipids and peroxides. These enzymes repair the damage to biomolecules and reconstitute the damaged cell membrane. Examples include involved in DNA damage repair, cancer and aging.

(d) Fourth line defense ( enzyme inhibitor antioxidant) :- It basically involves those antioxidants that are involved in an adapted mechanism in which a signal responsible for free radical production and reaction is utilised to prevent its formation or reaction. The signal generated from the free radical formed acts as a guide and brings the antioxidant to the right site.
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Antioxidants play a major role in health improvement and their presence in our daily food is of immense importance. Let us discuss the role of antioxidants a bit more. Natural or man- made substances that may prevent certain types of cell damage are known as antioxidants. Diet rich in fruits and veggies are a serious source of antioxidants. But whether antioxidants as supplements are beneficial or not are still not very clear and researches are going on. Some of the antioxidants include selenium, vitamin C and E, carotenoids including Lutein, β-carotene, lycopene. As per reports, people having more fruits and vegetables in their diet have lower risks of diseases. It is however not evident whether it is contributable to the amount of antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, to other ingredients of the foods consumed, to other dietary factors or to choice of lifestyle.
Extensive scientific research in more than 100,000 people tested for the ability of antioxidant supplements to prevent chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases and cataracts found that antioxidants lack the ability to reduce the risks of these disease development.
However, high-dose of antioxidant supplements may result in increased risk to health in some cases. For example, people who smoke regularly are more susceptible to lung cancer if their diet is supplemented with high doses of beta-carotene. Diet, rich in high doses of vitamin E supplements increases the risks of stroke and prostate cancer. Supplements of antioxidant interact with certain medicines. As for example, supplements of vitamin E increase the risk of bleeding in patients receiving anticoagulant drugs. There is some evidence that antioxidant supplement uptake during cancer treatment can be beneficial, but another suggests that it may be harmful. Therefore, it is important to inform health care practitioners about the condition of health before undergoing antioxidant supplements.
Scavenging of free radicals (highly unstable molecules) is the most important role played by antioxidants. Free radicals are generated through natural process during exercise and formation of energy from food consumed. Several other factors (sunlight, active and passive smoking of cigarette other environmental pollutions) can also lead to formation of free radicals in the body. The oxidative stress brought on by free radicals contributes to various diseases, including diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular diseases and eye related problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
Antioxidants have been reported to counteract the oxidative stress. Nevertheless, there is still some doubt as to whether consumption of huge quantity of antioxidant supplement can really have any health benefits or not.
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