Free Radicals – What Makes Them So Bad?

How Free Radicals Damage Cells

These nasty chemicals called free radicals are a major threat to our body’s cells.   The body generates free radicals as a byproduct of turning food into energy and can be found in the food we eat and the air we breathe.   Some are generated by sunlight and absorbed through the skin or eyes.   They come in different shapes, sizes, and chemical configurations, but they are all capable of damaging cells and genetic material.   Free radical damage is involved in the early stages of artery-clogging atherosclerosis and contributes to cancer, vision loss, and many other chronic conditions.

Free Radicals have an “appetite” for electrons and take them from substances that will allow them to.   As explained by Harvard’s School of Public Health “This electron theft can radically alter the “loser’s” structure or function.   Free radical damage will change the instructions coded in a strand of DNA”.  An example of how free radicals can impact our body is when they produce LDL (low-density lipoprotein), also called “bad cholesterol”.   This molecule is very likely to get trapped in an artery wall.  Free radicals can also alter a cell’s membrane and change the flow of what enters and exits the cell.

The good news is that we are not defenseless against free radicals.  Antioxidants give electrons to free radicals “without turning into electron-scavenging substances themselves”.  While each antioxidant has a unique chemical behavior and biological property, no single antioxidant can do the work of many.  This is why diet and anti-aging are so connected.   There are possibly thousands of different substances that can act as antioxidants.   Common vitamins in food like C, E, and beta-carotene are important to helping provide needed nutrition because they provided the different antioxidants a body needs.  Studies have shown that people with low intakes of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables were at greater risk for developing a chronic condition, and that people who ate plenty of these fruits and vegetables live longer.  The body will continue to resist the relentless attack of free radicals as surely as water douses fire if it receives proper nutrition.

See my article on foods high in antioxidents HERE

About Dr. Ann J Peters: 
Dr. Ann J Peters specializes in anti-aging therapies, natural hormone optimization, low glycemic and anti-inflammatory nutrition and maintaining ideal body composition. Her goal is to help clients look, feel and live longer and healthier lives by delaying, preventing and reversing the signs and symptoms of aging. She attained her medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). Dr. Peters completed her medical internships and fellowships at Cornell Medical Center, New York, Harvard School of Public Health and Ospadali Galleria in Genoa, Italy. She is affiliated with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, European Academy of Quality of Life and Longevity Medicine, and the International Hormone Society For more information, please visit: You may also follow her on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Vitamin C: What & Why

These fruits and vegetables pack a powerful Vitamin C Punch!

While we hear about the benefits of Vitamin C on a nearly daily basis, few of us know the real ins and outs of this nutrient, which our bodies treat like a vitamin. We know it can be found in citrus fruits and is frequently touted as the way to beat the common cold.

But many of us don’t know that there are several foods, vegetables and fruits which pack more Vitamin C punch than the oft touted orange. And while commercials and health blogs repeatedly recommend you up your Vitamin C intake to bolster your immune system, we’re unaware of many other ways ascorbic acid benefits a well body.

Vitamin C, ascorbic acid, acts as an antioxidant when introduced to the human body. This means it fights the free radicals which damage cells and advance, or at least advance some of the symptoms/signs of, aging. Our lifestyles and the lifestyles of those who surround us bring us into proximity with a variety of free radicals every day, air pollution, cigarette smoke (both first and second-hand), and even sunlight.

Here are some more fast facts about Vitamin C:

  • helps our bodies absorb iron (helps anemics)
  • required in order for our bodies to make collagen (aids in healing)
  • may shorten the length of a cold for those who take in enough via diet and/or supplements

Vitamin C research regarding other medical and healthful healthful benefits is ongoing.

“Vitamin C has received a great deal of attention, and with good reason. Higher blood levels of vitamin C may be the ideal nutrition marker for overall health,” says study researcher Mark Moyad, MD, MPH, of the University of Michigan. “The more we study vitamin C, the better our understanding of how diverse it is in protecting our health, from cardiovascular, cancer, stroke, eye health [and] immunity to living longer.” Source Article

That should be enough information to get you on board about getting more Vitamin C on a regular, if not daily, basis. Our bodies do not store Vitamin C, so it is important to maintain a diet and supplement regimen that provides plenty of ascorbic acid. Beyond orange juice, oranges and grapefruit you can add plenty of:

  • red and green peppers
  • cantaloupe
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes and tomate juice (read labels for additives, sugar & sodium content)
  • kiwi
  • red cabbage
  • kale
  • brussels sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • strawberries

Are Dietary Supplements Necessary?

vitaminsIt’s an often asked question. Do we need to supplement in order to provide our bodies with the proper vitamins, minerals, nutrients and more?

In an ideal world, we’d get everything a healthy body and mind requires from the food we put into our mouths. Before the mass production of pre-processed foods, men and women did rely on food to provide them with vital nutrients. Had their been Vitamin C in pill capsule when travel was by the high seas, there would have been little incident of scurvy.

Our diets have changed quite a lot in the name of convenience. If the food we’re eating comes in a bright and shiny package, there’s a good chance the nutrients inside are not the same as those our forefathers were taking in. That’s why most nutritionists advise their clients to shop the perimeter of the store, avoiding the inner aisles. The more “natural” foods are found around the bulks of those pretty packages.

It’s important to remember that multivitamins and other dietary supplements cannot make up for an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. They can be taken to assist us in getting the nutrients we may be missing in our diets. If you’re not a fan of fruits and vegetables, you might not be getting enough vitamin C or vitamin A. If you’re not a meat eater and/or don’t like greens, you may not be absorbing enough iron.

Consult with your doctor or with a licensed nutritionist to see if you can supplement with dietary changes and/ or additions. If you can’t they may recommend a multi-vitamin or supplement.