The health/fitness and vitamin supplement industries have long touted the benefits of antioxidants. These compounds help to neutralize single oxygen molecules called free radicals which are the byproducts of oxygen metabolism; they may also come into the body from the environment via pollution, cigarette smoke, sunlight and pesticides. Free radicals can damage cells and are among the causes of many diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Because free radicals accumulate, they also appear to play a role in diseases associated with aging including Alzheimer's Disease and macular degeneration. Early research into antioxidants suggested a role in preventing many of these conditions.
To Supplement or Not to Supplement
The most commonly used antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene. Other known antioxidants include grape seed extract, vitamin A, selenium and coenzyme Q10. Natural sources of these antioxidants abound: leafy greens, carrots,