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Antioxidants - What is actually happening in our body and why?

Every skincare blog is full of praise for antioxidants, apparently they are the key to eternal youth. But what are they really and what are they doing in your skincare products?

An antioxidant prevents or reverses an oxidation process.

What is Oxidation, you ask?

Oxidation process explained

Think of an old iron gate that is slowly rusting away or a cut-up apple that is turning brown. These are everyday oxidation processes where you can see how oxygen ions, called free radicals, attack and slowly destroy the surface of another object.

To get a better understanding we have to look at it on a molecular level so let's revisit our Year 9 Chemistry classroom. ;)

What is a free radical ?

Two Oxygen atoms normally form a stable molecule with a neutral electric charge.

Now there are several factors which we discuss later that can break up this bond, leaving positively charged oxygen ions behind. That makes these atoms highly unstable and reactive, they seek an electron to return to their stable state. So they attack other molecules for example in cells to 'steal' an electron, effectively damaging the cell or even the DNA in this process.

This also happens inside your body as a normal everyday metabolism reaction and is essentially what the aging process is about. 

Free radicals in the body cause degradation as they kill membranes of cells and make cells susceptible to decline and pathogens. Such free radicals destroy DNA and mitochondria, the fundamental building blocks of all tissues, and may leave many health problems in their course.

How can we counteract the attack of free radicals?

Now here come the antioxidants into play. Those are molecules or elements that have plenty of electrons and are eager to bond with the free radicals or donate an electron to them. That neutralises the free radical, in the case of a free oxygen ion it just produces an oxygen molecule which is very beneficial for the body.

There are different types of Antioxidants

When we hear antioxidant we normally think of Vitamin C but this is not the only substance, there are plenty other molecules that are also antioxidant and sometimes way more efficient than vitamin C.

Here is just a small list of some major antioxidants that not only work as a supplement intake but also work on the skin.

fullerene - carbon based mineral

beta-carotene – pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, carrots, spinach 

vitamin A – liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, and egg yolk

vitamin E – vegetable oils, avocados, nuts, seeds and whole grains

zinc – seafood, lean meat, milk and nuts

flavonoids – tea, green tea, citrus fruits, red wine, onion and apples

resveratrol – red wine 

manganese – seafood, lean meat, milk and nuts

salicylic acid - derived from willow bark

hyaluronic acid - found in human body, joints

niacinamide = vitamin B3 liver, tuna, turkey, salmon

 

A lot of choices but also very confusing, right?

You could just stick with Vitamin C and be good, right? Well, no.

There are also different types of free radicals

When we think of free radicals we normally think of free oxygen atoms but that is a simplification that has nothing to do with what is really going on in our body. Practically every binding atom can become a free radical. Just a few examples are 

  • Superoxide anion 
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Hypochlorite
  • Nitric oxide 
  • Peroxyntrite

But not every antioxidant can neutralise every free radical. Thats just plain chemistry, not every two substances can bind easily.

The antioxidant Fullerene can neutralise a lot of different free radicals as it is solely made up of pure carbon and carbon is a part of every organic molecule, whereas the more divers antioxidants are more selective in what they can bind with.

So the important lesson here is, that to neutralise the largest amount of free radicals it is beneficial to use a variety of different antioxidants.

Can we minimise the amount of free radicals that are generated?

Can we just not evade the formation of free radicals in the first place? Yes and No. Free radicals are generated by normal metabolic processes in the cells on a daily basis. They also are by-products while exercising and where  inflammation is present in the body. These are processes beyond our control, but there are also external factors that we have more influence over that produce free radicals. Environmental pollution, cigarette smoke, UV Radiation or drugs and pesticides, these we can try to control and minimise our exposure.

A well balanced skincare can help keeping your skin healthy and young.

So you see when it comes to ageing and the slowing or even reversing of it, there are a lot of different factors that we need to be conscious about but  that we also can use to benefit our skin and our body as a whole.

Fuishena skincare products all have a high concentration of fullerene antioxidant in their base formula, furthermore every product has its own recipe of additional antioxidants to deal with selective skin issues. 

The Divine Nektar line is tailored more for the younger skin and issues of impurities and inflammation whereas the Divine Ambrosia line is designed for the more mature skin and targets skin ageing as well as issues of dryness and loss of elasticity.

 

 

 

 

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