Health Articles

Live-well is a leading healthcare company that is actively involved in dissemination of information to the community.
Our articles are published in Malaysia's leading dailies.

Antioxidise your health

Antioxidise Your Health
WHAT can we do to help our bodies cope better with infectious illnesses?

It definitely helps to have a strong and healthy immune system. Here's how it works - the immune system is like the security system in your home. This system is continuously monitoring the environment for anything that is out of place, and when an unusual situation is detected, it dispatches the most appropriate defence mechanisms.

The immune system recognises viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and mutant cells, and it has a variety of "soldiers" (immune cells such as macrophages, neutrophils and natural killer cells), each with it own weapons and methods of attack to destroy these invaders.

Harmful Free Radicals and the Human Immune System
The harmful free radicals from our environment are a major cause of ill-health. These free radicals can come from exposure to the sun's rays (UV light), pollution, radiation, stress, and poor diet.

Immune cells also suffer from free radical damage. This results in lowered immunity. The good thing is that we are not completely powerless. Antioxidant supplements can help protect our immune system from the damage of free radical "bombardment".

Antioxidant Army
We have our own army of defence against free radicals and they are called antioxidants. Antioxidants have the ability to render free radicals harmless. As long as there are adequate amounts of antioxidants within our bodies to handle the free radicals produced within the cell, there is little or no damage to surrounding tissues.

The body has the ability to make some of its own antioxidants, five of which are Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), CatALAse, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Coenzyme Q10 and Glutathione Peroxidase. However, the body may not be able to produce enough antioxidants on its own to neutralise all of the free radicals that are produced.

Although many antioxidants can be obtained from food sources, it is difficult to get enough to hold back free radicals constantly generated in our polluted environment. That is why we need to get the rest of the antioxidants from supplements.

Vitamin A (Beta carotene)
This is a powerful free radical scavenger that attacks and neutralises the singlet oxygen, a dangerous free radical that affects our eyes, skin and lungs.

In a number of studies, beta-carotene supplementation was found to enhance certain immune responses. Early studies demonstrated the ability of beta-carotene and other carotenoids to prevent infections. Some clinical trials have found that beta-carotene supplementation improves several biomarkers of immune function. It can lead to an increase in the number of white blood cells and the activity of natural killer cells. Both of these are important in combating various diseases.

Vitamin C Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has been demonstrated to have a substantial impact on human health. Supplementation of Vitamin C was found to improve the human immune system response to infections.

People taking daily doses of Vitamin C can boost their immune system, potentially protecting themselves from viruses and colds, according to a study presented at the 60th Anniversary Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

Another function of Vitamin C is helping to recycle vitamin E to keep it actively fighting free radicals.

Vitamin E
This is an effective antioxidant and immune system booster. Vitamin E bolsters the production of B-cells, which are the immune cells that produce antibodies that destroy bacteria and viruses.

Research shows that vitamin E enhances immunity in healthy elderly people. It has also been found to improve the circulatory system and oxygen absorption, and has a role in preventing cataracts.

Selenium
This is a trace mineral that synergises well with vitamin E and is the key component in the powerful glutathione-based antioxidant enzymes that convert hydrogen peroxide free radicals into water.

In addition, selenium is essential for a healthy immune system, assisting the body in defending against harmful bacteria and viruses, as well as cancer cells.

Zinc
Severe zinc deficiency depresses immune function and even mild to moderate degrees of zinc deficiency can impair immune cell function. The body requires zinc to develop and activate specific immune cell (T-lymphocytes).

Individuals with low zinc levels have been associated with increased susceptibility to pneumonia. Zinc is required to maintain effective levels of vitamin E and A. It is also the key ingredient in the very important antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD).

Copper and Manganese
These are both essential components of superoxide dismutase (SOD) that neutralises the most dangerous free radical in the body - superoxide.

Zinc
Severe zinc deficiency depresses immune function and even mild to moderate degrees of zinc deficiency can impair immune cell function. The body requires zinc to develop and activate specific immune cell (T-lymphocytes).

Individuals with low zinc levels have been associated with increased susceptibility to pneumonia. Zinc is required to maintain effective levels of vitamin E and A. It is also the key ingredient in the very important antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD).

Alpha Lipoic Acid
Dr Lester Packer, professor of the University of California, Berkeley, department of molecular and cell biology, is among the world's leading antioxidant researchers and has described alpha lipoic acid as very close to an ideal antioxidant. Alpha lipoic acid can also recharge other antioxidants that have been used up. In the body, it helps regenerate other antioxidants such as Vitamin C, vitamin E and glutathione.

In addition to that, alpha lipoic acid is the only antioxidant that can boost the level of intracellular glutathione, a cellular antioxidant of tremendous importance. Besides being the body's primary water-soluble antioxidant and a major detoxification agent, glutathione is absolutely essential for the functioning of the immune system.

Grape Seed Standardised Extract
The active ingredients found in standardised extracts of grape seed are Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPCs). Research indicates that OPCs may be 20 to 50 times more potent as an antioxidant than Vitamin C and E.

The body produces many types of free radicals - singlet oxygen, superoxides, hydroxyl, hydrogen peroxide, peroxyl, etc, and almost all are damaging to the immune system and other parts of the body. Different antioxidants neutralise different species of free radicals. Hence when it comes to antioxidant supplementation, it makes sense to take a supplement that contains a variety of antioxidants.



Other Internal Defense System Article(s)