Why Do Liquid Vitamins Contain Antioxidants?
by Kristy Haugen
Most recall the widely recognized chlorofluorocarbons which were free radicals
produced by solar radiation that caused depletion of the ozone layer. This is probably
the most familiar free radical that jogs the memory. However, free radicals have
been linked to several diseases such as cancer, hypertension, and rheumatoid arthritis
to name a few. But what are free radicals?

Free radicals are simply atoms or groups of atoms with unpaired electrons in the
outer (valence) shell. Why is this so deadly? Most atoms want to attain a stable outer
shell. In order to be stable, free radicals must obtain an electron so that the electrons
are paired. Because the outer shell contains unpaired electrons, free radicals are
extremely reactive.

In our bodies, free radicals will oxidize the nearest molecule taking the needed
electron. The oxidized molecule will then become a free radical, beginning a chain
reaction. This chain reaction will continue until resulting in the disruption of a living cell.
Free radicals can attack lipids (fats), proteins, carbohydrates, and DNA. However,
DNA is a prime target. DNA and free radical interactions usually result in mutations
that adversely affect the cell cycle and potentially lead to malignancy. In fact,
researchers believe this is how many forms of cancer arise. Why should you take an
antioxidant?

Antioxidants are substances that protect the body from damaging oxidation
reactions. The antioxidants can safely interact with free radicals and prevent the
damage of vital molecules. Antioxidants are able to neutralize the free radical chain
reaction by reacting with the free radical. In order to stop the chain reaction, the
antioxidant donates the needed electron. The antioxidants also do not become a free
radical by donating the electron, safely ending the chain reaction. The antioxidants are
able to do this because they are stable in either form.

Free radicals can be very harmful for the body. Most focus on the harmful affects of
free radicals and sources of damaging free radicals; pollution, radiation, cigarette
smoke and herbicides. However, some free radicals can be useful to our bodies and
environment. Free radicals are required in polymerization reactions to create useful
plastics. The body uses free radicals in the immune system (neutrophils). The body
also uses free radicals for cell signaling processes.

Regardless of good free radicals, protection against harmful free radicals is extremely
important to good health. The most important antioxidants are vitamin A
(beta-carotene), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and vitamin E (alpha tocopherol). The
body does not produce these essential vitamins, so they must be provided in the diet.

The invisible war against harmful free radical damage affects the world. The
antioxidant remedy can easily be supplemented with a vitamin supplement fortified
with antioxidants. Cancer may not be curable but it can be prevented if antioxidants
are allowed to intervene.

Copyright 2005 Kristy Haugen


About The Author

Kristy Haugen is a mother working to finish her second bachelor degree in Chemical
Engineering. She is also a Licensed Practical Nurse with a current bachelor degree in
Biology and Chemistry. She writes to quench her thirst for knowledge. Read more
articles at
in the 'Health Article' section.
Vitamins offer many health
benefits. Many only think they
need to take a good vitamin
supplement because their
mother said so. However,
vitamin supplements offer
antioxidants such as vitamin E,
vitamin C, and vitamin A. These
antioxidants combat reactive
oxygen intermediates (free
radicals). In order for us to
understand why it is important to
take a vitamin supplement rich in
antioxidants, we need to
understand free radicals.
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