Everyone has heard of antioxidants and that they help fight free radicals. Blah, Blah, Blah. So, what exactly are free radicals and what kind of damage do they cause?
A free radical capable of producing damage is an oxygen atom that has an unpaired electron. Because of this unpaired electron, it is unstable and highly reactive. Free radicals can damage cells by disrupting the cell membrane. If the cell membrane is damaged, it cannot do its job of delivering vital nutrients to the cell or removing toxic waste products from the cell. Therefore, the unhealthy cells cannot function properly or reproduce new, healthy cells. Advanced aging can take place due to the decreasing number of cells and the resulting lack of tissue function. In addition, if the cell’s DNA is damaged from free radical exposure, mutations may occur and could potentially result in cancer or other diseases.
Where does one encounter free radical exposure? Free radical exposure can occur from external sources, such as UV radiation or air pollution. Internal sources include alcohol intake and smoking. Then, how exactly do antioxidants help fight free radicals?
Antioxidants stabilize the spinning, out of control, agitated free radical by contributing the electron that it needs to function normally. More specifically, antioxidants reduce these reactive oxygen forms to usable water or oxygen for the cells. Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and enzymes that can be taken internally (diet) or applied topically (skin). However, antioxidants taken internally may never even reach the skin. This is because the body absorbs or excretes them before getting to the capillaries that supply nutrition to the skin’s dermis. In order for the skin to achieve the benefits from antioxidants, they must be delivered topically to obtain effective levels.
There are plenty of skin care products on the market containing antioxidant ingredients. However, these ingredients must: 1. Be able to be utilized by the skin (i.e. chirally correct molecules) and 2. Be of sufficient quantity in order to achieve efficacious results. The following is a list of skin care ingredients with powerful antioxidant properties:
· Alpha Lipoic Acid
· D-Alpha-Tocopherol (Vitamin E)
· Green Tea
· L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
· L-Superoxide Dismutase