What exactly are antioxidants and why do we need them?

Seems like every food you can imagine is being promoted as rich in antioxidants but what exactly are they and why are they so important for our health?
Asked by lopo5
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Touchedtherapies
I think the easiest analogy is if you think about Oxidation being the process that creates rust, usually on the surface of something, then Oxidation occuring on the inside the body causes a breakdown of cells, which then attack healthy cells, DNA, proteins and fats. This weakens the immune system and speeds up the aging process as well as being linked linked to several diseases such as cataracts, cancer and heart disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's , diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis.
Oxidants, aka "free radicals," are introduced to the body by sun exposure, pollution, stress, alcohol, unhealthy food, and cigarette smoke.
Antioxidants, or anti-oxidation agents, reduce the effect of dangerous oxidants by binding together with these harmful molecules, decreasing their destructive power. Antioxidants can also help repair damage already sustained by cells.
Certain antioxidant enzymes are produced within the body. But todays fast paced lifestyle, pollution and and poor diet has tipped the natural balance somewhat.
Other antioxidant agents are found in dark green leafy vegetables. Items high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene are believed to be the most beneficial. These can be found in fruits and vegetables, those with the strongest colors being healthiest. Orange and red peppers, tomatoes, spinach, and carrots are examples. You can also supplement, but supplements are exactly that and should never be used as an alternative.
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BeautyCoach

Free radicals attack the body cells thousands of times a day, causing premature ageing both inside and out. A diet rich in antioxidants is a preventative health care and should be a major part in any health and beauty regime. I recommend my client’s take a powerful antioxidant drink to ensure they
are receiving their daily nutritional needs. The powerful antioxidants helps increase the skin’s elasticity and reduces the visible signs of ageing.