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Anti-oxidants

Anti-oxidants, antioxidants or whatever you call them and how they affect the brain health

Before discussing the potential benefits of Anti-oxidants as far as cognitive impairment (dementia , Alzheimer's disease) is concerned, we will answer 3 questions:

1) What is Oxidation of molecules?
2) What are Anti-oxidants?
3) Where do you find Anti-oxidants?

1) Simply put, oxidation of molecules is a chemical reaction that can damage cells (keep in mind that oxidation is a natural occurring phenomenon which is crucial to life, but it can also be damaging when it is excessive)

2) Anti-oxidants are substances that break this chemical reaction by removing free radical intermediates

3) Anti-oxidants are found in Supplements that contain Vitamin C, it is a well known fact that vitamins in fruits and vegetables break down better than Vitamin pills and herbal supplement pills, so eat a lot of citrus fruits, green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries, raw cabbage and potatoes and you will get a good dose of Anti-Oxidants, also keep in mind that certain researches show that foods that are over cooked lose a lot of their vitamins (this is not to say that you should eat raw potatoes either).

Anti-oxidants are also found in Vitamin E which is contained in the following food elements: wheat germ, nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil and fish-liver oil. Beta-carotene also contains antioxidants and is found in Carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches and apricots are particularly rich sources of beta-carotene.

Last (in this list) but not the least is Selenium which is a mineral that contains large amounts of anti-oxidants, it is found in foods such as fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic.

It is recommended that you take this mineral in the form of foods, because supplements (even herbal) can be toxic if taken in large amounts.

Now armed with the knowledge of what Anti-oxidants are, how they affect the oxidation of molecules and where you can find them, let's take a look at how oxidation of molecules might affect your brains cognitive functions.

People suffering from the Alzheimer's disease (AD) have oxidative damage within their brains. The damage is seen within each variety of biomolecules, including proteins, lipids carbohydrates and nucleic acids.

Oxidative injury can occur due to excessive oxidative stress resulting from mitochondrial abnormalities, inadequate energy supply, beta-amyloid-induced free radicals or altered antioxidant defences.

Treatment that involves Antioxidants is a promising approach for slowing down the progression of the disease to the extent that oxidative damage may be responsible for the cognitive and functional decline observed in Alzheimer's disease.

Even though there is no complete consensus on the subject, certain epidemiological studies point to the link between Antioxidant intake and a reduced incidence of cognitive decline, Alhzeimer's disease and dementia in the elderly population. In AD clinical trials molecules with Antioxidant properties such as vitamin E and Ginkgo biloba extract have shown modest benefits.

It goes without saying that you should also avoid oxidants, but it's easy to do since they are found in chemical substances that we normally don't consume, such as bleach.

There is currently an ongoing trial involving intake of vitamin E to determine if it can help delay progression of Alzheimer's disease in people with mild cognitive impairment.

Combinations of antioxidants might have an even greater potential benefit for AD sufferers, especially if the agents worked in different cellular compartments or had complementary activity (e.g. vitamins E, C and ubiquinone). Naturally-occurring compounds with antioxidant capacity are available and widely marketed (e.g. vitamin C, ubiquinone, lipoic acid, beta-carotene, creatine, melatonin, curcumin) and synthetic compounds are under development by industry.

Nevertheless, the clinical value of these agents for AD prevention and treatment is ambiguous, and will remain so until properly designed human trials have been performed.

Remember to eat a lot of greens and include the supplements into your daily intake if you can't get enough fruits and vegetables into your daily meals.

Another good approach is to take herbal supplements.