Why Do Liquid Vitamins Contain Antioxidants?
by: Kristy Haugen
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

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.

This article was posted on January 03, 2006

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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The
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