Vitamin deficiency diseases have long been recognized and have been practically eliminated by making sure our normal foods are sufficiently varied to give us all or at least a major portion of the vitamins we need. But nutrition is more than just avoiding the most obvious and life-threatening pitfalls. Beyond deficiency there is the normal functioning of our body processes and optimal health. Anti-oxidants work to keep our tissues from aging and to keep away another set of illnesses, that are not properly recognized to stem from deficiencies, but nevertheless are mediated by the fact that the body misses certain beneficial nutrients. Beldeu Singh, an antioxidant researcher in Malaysia, says:
"There is a growing body of information based on antioxidant research and how the free radical mechanism generates oxidative stress in tissues leading to inflammations or oxidative injury or inactivation of enzymes involved in cellular function and how free radicals, being extremely reactive, damage protein or hormone molecules or cell membranes and promote aging of the body and how free radicals create the onset of chronic or degenerative conditions especially when they are in excess of antioxidants. This lends support to the new wave on the use of exogenous antioxidants and minerals for maintaining optimal health and to create a vibrant, healthy and productive middle age and to push into the eighties."
Antioxidants function as an integrated system Image: Beldeu Singh
In contrast to the mechanical activity of testing each isolated substance for signs of deficiency disease at low levels of intake, the nutrients we call antioxidants work together forming a whole system that must be functional to keep the body well. This is one of the reasons why recommended daily intakes are of very limited use for optimizing health.
"The antioxidant defense mechanism is a system that comprises the selenium based antioxidants produced in the body that function together with the exogenous antioxidants of plant origin such as vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E. Hence administering one vitamin for a specific cure as in the case of drug administration may not be the correct or proper approach for improving total health. The antioxidant approach requires that the antioxidant defense mechanism functions effectively as a system to restore health or improve the body’s ability to fight infection or reverse a chronic disease or to slow down the progress of diseases. And this requires a basic understanding of the lipoic acid antioxidant network and the need for selenium by the body to produce glutathione and selenoproteins."
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Nitric Oxide is a free radical, but it is also a necessary substance for many of our body processes:
"Nitric oxide is critical to normal physiological processes associated with normal development and health and its excess or low levels will produce developmental defects or pathological problems. The multifaceted role of NO in the human body must be understood so that clinical nutrition as an intervention for restoring health can be effective and it must attempt and succeed to restore endothelial function as a way to address the ravaging effects of excess nitric oxide."
"Nitric oxide is transformed into peroxynitrate by the reactive oxygen radical and it degrades vitamins and glutathione and other protein and hormone molecules in the body. To protect vitamins and glutathione in the body, other biomolecules are needed, which may be called super-antioxidants because they donate electrons to free radicals and radicals more readily than vitamins and glutathione and prevent the latter from degradation, so that the vitamins and glutathione and other antioxidant enzymes may be used in the Krebs cycle and in mitochondrial metabolic activity. These super anti-oxidants are bioflavonoids and anthocyanins."
"The nitric oxide balance as managed by a healthy coronary endothelium is the key to maintaining optimum health. Excess nitric oxide promotes disease through free radical generation such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc. Overproduction of the NO (reactive) free radical causes tissue damage and chronic inflammation pathology. Duke University Medical Center researchers confirmed that nitric oxide plays a major role in assembling protein networks that direct fundamental cell activities such as whether cells live or die, which is a much broader role than suggested earlier such as delivery of oxygen to tissues. Cell death is linked to a number of health problems including heart failure. Nitric oxide is now recognized as playing an important role in the regulation of diverse physiological processes."
Read Beldeu Singh's whole article here: