Free Radicals: Destructive Scavengers and the Vital Role Antioxidants Play

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The brain is the most active part of the body. It uses the most energy, and therefore is subject to bombardment with the most free radicals. The significance of this is not only that we feel negative effects in our mind -- such as feeling tired and muddled -- but also because brain is very important in its control of so many of the vital workings of our bodies.

When a free radical attacks, it can get into the cell and cause the mitochondrion, the powerhouse of the cell, to die or cease to function fully. This can disrupt one of a multitude of processes. A dead or poorly functioning mitochondrion can disrupt or slow down neuronal firing. Mental illness is largely due to imbalances in the neuronal processes of our natural brain chemistry. Poorly working or dead mitochondria can prevent certain natural functions from working, causing symptoms like hormonal imbalance.

If left untreated, the damage from free radicals accumulates with age. They are the cause of many degenerative diseases and are associated with many of the signs of the aging process.

Antioxidants are molecules loaded with extra free electrons. When we have enough antioxidants the free radicals get their electrons from the antioxidants in our body, rather than stealing them from our cells.

The body is naturally built to handle free radicals. Antioxidants are found in the vitamins A, C and E in the fruits and vegetables we eat. However, even eating the five to eight recommended servings a day or using supplements still often does not do enough to combat massive free radical damage.