Live Long with Antioxidants

Why do we need antioxidants? Every process in our bodies produces resulting free radicals. The only advantage that we have to prevent the damage that could be caused by excessive and unbalanced free radicals comes in the form of antioxidants. As we age, it becomes harder for our bodies to correct the problems caused by free radicals. Further, the degree to which our aging bodies are able to produce free radicals decreases significantly as time goes on.

This does not have to be our fate. Antioxidants have been proven over and over to be an advantage that is easily replenished on a daily basis. This means that our ability to lead longer healthier lives could simply be a matter of choice.

What are free radicals? Our bodies require oxygen to perform every function in life. We need it for metabolism, energy, growth, immunity, and almost every other bodily function. Unfortunately, when oxygen is used in this way there is a harmful result. Free radicals are produced with every function that uses oxygen.

In addition, our environment also adds or produces free radicals in our bodies. Agents such as pollution, cigarette smoke, and radiation are major components in the production of physiological free radicals.

These free radicals are like little bouncing balls of energy that wreak havoc on our bodies by damaging cells and DNA which can ultimately result in a number of diseases and illnesses as well as accelerated aging. In fact, free radical damage has been indicated in cancer and heart disease as well as the diseases of aging to some extent.

What are antioxidants? Antioxidants are different vitamins and other compounds that are either produced by the body or obtained in food. Just like every other compound in nature, antioxidants have a job to do. One of their most important jobs is to stop free radicals in their tracks. You could almost term antioxidants as sacrificial molecules.

Once an antioxidant comes in contact with a free radical, it sacrifices itself and discharges the free radical. The antioxidant then becomes a weak free radical itself. Unfortunately, it cannot return to its former state without the help of other antioxidants. Fortunately, there is a network of antioxidants that do just that. In addition to fighting free radicals, they recycle each other to go back on the front line. It is a cycle of healing at our easy disposal.

Lester Packer, Ph. D has put together what he terms the “antioxidant network”. (Packer, 1999, p. 9) Consisting of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Lipoic Acid, Glutathione, and CoQ10, he has arranged a plan to keep us healthy and vital during our aging process. Below is what this innovative scientist has determined as our toolbox for the “antioxidant advantage”. (Packer, 1999, p. 10)

o Vitamin C: Vitamin C is the water soluble hub of the antioxidant network according to Dr. Packer. Vitamin C is able to recycle Vitamin E back to its antioxidant state better enabling the antioxidant network. Because damage to DNA is a precursor to cancer, you will be happy to hear that Vitamin C is able to shield DNA from free radical damage which could in turn prevent cancer. Vitamin C also protects other cells from free radical damage such as sperm cells, immune cells, and skin cells. Along with Vitamin E, Vitamin C can protect against cataracts. The list goes on as to the antioxidant effect of Vitamin C. (Packer, 1999, p. 77-91)

o Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin. In order to be transported through the blood stream to go where it is needed, Vitamin E hitches a ride on lipoproteins. These lipoproteins, known commonly as LDLs are protected Vitamin E from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E is a full spectrum antioxidant with numerous preventive and healing qualities. Vitamin E has a strong role in protecting organic substances and molecules from becoming rancid. This is true in food as well as in our bodies. That is good news because that means it offers blanket protection to all of our cells to prevent diseases of aging as well as cancer and heart disease. (Packer, 1999, p. 54-76)

o Lipoic Acid: Lipoic Acid is amazing in that it can recycle all of the antioxidants. Not only that but it is very powerful for preventing of diseases of aging. By turning off bad genes, lipoic acid can assist in preventing cancer, stroke, cataracts, heart disease, and diseases of the liver. One of the main qualities of lipoic acid is that it is versatile and helps the body utilize energy. Remarkably, lipoic acid is able to regenerate itself. This is just the tip of the iceberg for lipoic acid because the benefits list is too long for this handout. (Packer, 1999, p. 31-53)

o Glutathione: Low levels of glutathione have been indicated in many diseases. It is produced in the body as a water soluble antioxidant can be easily used up. Glutathione assists in detoxification, liver function, recovering age related slumps in immunity, and is a primary player in the storage and transport of proteins. It is very important to maintain high levels of glutathione. Although it is not recommended to supplement glutathione, fortunately, lipoic acid easily boosts glutathione levels. It is the primary antioxidant in the cell and is reduced in times of illness and stress. Of course, as does the other antioxidants, Glutathione is also an anti-aging antioxidant. (Packer, 1999, p. 105-113)

o CoQ10: CoQ10 is a fat soluble coenzyme and can recycle vitamin E. It is capable of treating and preventing heart disease, rejuvenating brain cells, and treating gum disease. Being present in the mitochondria and the cell membrane, CoQ10 is important for making ATP. The other side of that is that as our cells produce ATP, free radicals are produced which are in turn quenched by the CoQ10. CoQ10 is a partner with all of the other antioxidants in preventing the diseases of aging, including Alzheimer’s. (Packer, 1999, p. 92-104)

What are Network Boosters according to Dr. Packer? Network boosters are compounds that can increase the power of the antioxidants that are used. They include flavonoids, carotenes, and selenium. Many of them can be obtained directly from food.

Flavonoids come from plants and come in supplements such as Pycnogenol and Gingko Biloba. They increase the effectiveness of antioxidants by boosting Vitamin C. The many benefits of flavonoids include improving memory and concentration, preventing blood clots and LDL oxidation, lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and boosting immune function. Not only that but they also help regulate blood flow by regulating the ever important but temperamental nitric oxide. (Packer, 1999, p.117-118)

Carotenoids are best taken in foods. A diet with attention paid to including at least 5 servings daily of foods that are yellow, orange or dark green and leafy will almost guarantee the ingestion of most of the carotenes. In addition, carotenoids work best when eaten with all of the components that nature has partnered them with. Some of the most notable carotenoids include alpha carotene, beta carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, lycopene, and zeanthin. (Packer, 1999, p.133-134)

Selenium is very protective against many different forms of cancer and stroke. The best food sources of selenium are garlic, onions, wheat germ, red grapes, broccoli, and egg yolks. (Packer, 1999, p142)

Other Information about Antioxidants

Ø Vitamin C can help to reduce the swelling and pain associated with Rheumatoid arthritis.

Ø According to research at University of WesternOntario, tocotrienols (a form of Vitamin E) inhibits the growth of estrogen-positive and estrogen-negative breast cancer cells.

Ø CHAOS (Cambridge Heart Antioxidant Study) indicates that individuals that are high risk for heart attack had 77% fewer heart attacks when they added Vitamin E to their supplements.

Ø Lipoic acid given immediately after a stroke can significantly reduce stroke-related brain injury caused by reperfusion.


The Packer Plan

A Supplement Recommendation

(Packer, 1999, p.188-194)

Lester Packer is the leading researcher for antioxidants and has been dubbed Dr. Antioxidant by his colleagues. In his book, The Antioxidant Miracle, Dr. Packer gives a recommendation for a basic antioxidant cocktail that he feels will improve your quality of life while extending it. Below is his recommended regimen:

A.M. Supplement Regimen

100 mg. Tocotrienols (Vitamin E)

200 mg. Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E)

30 mg Co Q10

50 mg Lipoic Acid

250 mg Ester C

400 mcg folic acid

300 mcg Biotin

2 mg Vitamin B6

 P.M. Supplement Regimen

200 mcg Selenium

30 mg Gingko Biloba

250 mg ester C

50 mg Lipoic Acid

200 mg natural alpha tocopherol

Special Needs Guidelines (add the following to the above recommendations):

Diabetics

100 mg lipoic acid

1000 GLA (Evening Primrose)

200 mcg chromium

Cigarette Smokers (including secondhand smokers)

100 mg lipoic acid

100 mg tocotrienols

50 mg Co Q10

20 mg Pycnogenol

Athletes Menopausal Women

250 mg L-Carnitine

1200 mg calcium

100 mg tocotrienols

People with high cancer risk & cardiovascular risk Picky Eaters

100 mg lipoic acid Flavonoid complex

100 mg tocotrienols (in pm for cardiovascular risk) Cruciferous Plus

50 mg Co Q10 Mixed Carotenoid Complex

20 mg Pycnogenol

RESOURCES

Packer, L. (1999) The Antioxidant Miracle. New York. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Disclaimer

 

 This post is for informational purposes only.  Before making any changes to your diet or following any health advise including what is contained in this post, please seek the appropriate medical advice from a licensed practitioner.

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Comments 6 comments

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

This is a very informative hub. I hope it becomes popular, this way a lot of people will benefit from its info! I like how you made an easy to follow list to abide by. I'm definitely bookmarking this for the future. Thanks again.


ggerner profile image

ggerner 6 years ago

Great info. I'm still one of those trying to get my nutrients from natural food sources but I may have to reconsider this in light of the growing needs of my aging body. :)


Jenny 5 years ago

Very very interesting. The Dr Antioxidant regimen is very helpful and makes me want to read his work. I like how you've given clear explanations of the various antioxidants as well as what free radicals are.

Thanks for a cool Hub.

Jenn


conradofontanilla profile image

conradofontanilla 4 years ago from Philippines

Vitamin C recycles vitamin E; NADH recycles vitamin C. Glutathione reductase recycles glutathione peroxidase. Antioxidants that are not recycled die off after giving their electrons to free radicals or reactive oxygen species. Lipoic acid is a cofactor in glutathione.Selenium protects against prostate cancer. Half the body supply of selenium is found in the prostate gland.CoQ10 occupies a step in the cytochrome system in the mitochondria that produce ATPs. Molecular oxygen waiting at the foot of ATP production, as it were, splits giving one electron to produce water and one electron to produce superoxide, a free radical-- water, carbon dioxide and superoxide are by-products of the metabolism of glucose. Molecular oxygen pulls the production of ATPs, without it the process clogs up that is why one starved for oxygen weakens or may die. Reperfusion injury occurs after a heart attack had been diffused owing to the lack of oxygen during heart attack. Oxygen is the signal for the production of the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD)that converts superoxide to hydrogen peroxide. So that if oxygen is absent no SOD is available to diffuse superoxides when blood rushes after a heart attack.


BlissfulWriter profile image

BlissfulWriter 4 years ago

I hear a lot of good things about alpha lipoic acid and Co-Q10. Ubiquinol is an more active form of Co-Q10 that may be preferred.


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

I think your advice is valid and information superb.

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