Free Radicals, Antioxidants and Functional Foods: Impact on Human Health

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A 2010 Article from Pharmacognosy Review (vol 4, no. 8, p.118) examining the role of free radicals in causing oxidative stress and skin damage. The authors conclude that supplementing the body's ability to fight free radicals through the use of topical, naturally occurring antioxidants provides an effective defense to oxidative stress by examining the roles of various antioxidant families.

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A balance between free radicals and antioxidants is necessary for proper physiological function. If free radicals overwhelm the body's ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress ensues. Free radicals thus adversely alter lipids, proteins, and DNA and trigger a number of human diseases. Hence application of external source of antioxidants can assist in coping this oxidative stress.

The first line of defense is the preventive antioxidants, which suppress the formation of free radicals... The second line of defense is the antioxidants that scavenge the active radicals to suppress chain initiation and/or break the chain propagation reactions...The third line of defense is the repair and de novo antioxidants. 

In view of increasing risk factors of human to various deadly diseases, there has been a global trend toward the use of natural substance present in medicinal plants and dietary plats as therapeutic antioxidants... The use of natural antioxidants in food, cosmetic, and therapeutic industry would be promising alternative for synthetic antioxidants in respect of low cost, highly compatible with dietary intake and no harmful effects inside the human body. Many antioxidant compounds, naturally occurring in plant sources have been identified as free radical or active oxygen scavengers.


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