Antioxidants are free radical scavengers. Free radicals are by-products of various metabolic functions and may also be formed by exposure to radiation, toxic chemicals, overexertion and by overexposure to the sun. Free radicals (molecules with unpaired electrons) are used by the immune system to destroy bacteria and virus-infected cells. The liver also uses these molecules to detoxify harmful chemicals. However, free radicals can also cause molecular damage to cells, impair the immune system, and ultimately lead to diseases.

Naturally occurring enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), methione reductase, catalase and glutathione peridoxidase protect the body from free radicals by neutralizing them. The work of these enzymes can be supplemented by a diet rich in antioxidants such as ß-carotene, vitamins A, C, E, and
selenium. However, taking too many antioxidants can result in fatigue.

There have been some concern in the past that taking antioxidants concurrently while undergoing some types of chemotherapy might interfere with the potency of the chemotherapy treatment. Cisplatin is a chemotherapy treatment that generates free radicals in cancerous cells. While it would be logical to assume that taking antioxidants might interfere with this type of treatment, there have been two studies that have indicated otherwise.

"Two major scientific papers recently appeared strongly supporting the concurrent use of antioxidants and chemotherapy. One of these is a randomized controlled trial, the other a laboratory experiment. Both conclude that the antioxidant vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) protects against nerve damage from the common chemotherapy drug cisplatin, without interfering with its effectiveness.."

­ "The Moss Reports Newsletter" April 18, 2003

Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D., the author of numerous books on alternative cancer treatment issue, is referring to the following studies:

Pace A, et al. Neuroprotective effect of vitamin E supplementation in patients treated with cisplatin chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol. 2003 Mar 1;21(5):927-31.
Leonetti C, et al. Alpha-tocopherol protects against cisplatin-induced toxicity without interfering with antitumor efficacy. Int J Cancer. 2003 Mar 20;104(2):243-50

Both of these studies focused on the effects of vitamin E supplementation while undergoing treatments with Cisplatin, To read more about these two studies, visit the archives of the Moss Reports newsletter and view the article "A Boost for Antioxidants" in the April 18, 2003 newsletter at his website:

The following are nutrients touted for their antioxidative properties.

Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) is a vitamin-like substance that resembles vitamin E, but which may be an even more powerful antioxidant. There are ten common coenzyme Qs, but coenzyme Q10 is the only one found in human tissue. It plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of the immune system and in the aging process.

Coenzyme Q10 has been shown to prevent cancer and reduce the size and metastasis of induced cancers.

Clinical tests are being used along with chemotherapy to reduce the side effects of treatments. Several clinical studies suggest that CoQ10 may help prevent heart damage caused by certain chemotherapy drugs, adriamycin, or other athracycline medications. More studies are needed, however. Talk to your health care provider before taking any herbs or supplements if you are undergoing chemotherapy.

Primary dietary sources of CoQ10 include oily fish (mackeral, salmon and sardine), organ meats (such as liver), and whole grains. Most people get enough CoQ10 through a balanced diet, but supplements may help people with particular health conditions.
Source: Coenzyme Q10 | University of Maryland Medical Center

NOTE: Not all products offer COQ10 in it's purest form. Its natural color is bright yellow and has very little taste in the powdered form. It should be kept away from heat and light. Pure COQ10 will deteriorate in temperatures above 115°F.

Vitamin E protects the essential fatty acids from oxidation and free radicals. It has been found to prevent tumors produced by carcinogenic substances and helps to form red blood cells. Vitamin E rich foods include olive and flaxseed oil, dark green vegetables, tomatoes, fresh vegetable oils, whole grains, oatmeal, peanuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, peaches, and prunes.

When Vitamin E binds with a free radical, it creates a harmless radical along with a potentially harmful "E-radical". E-radicals can combine with a carotenoid (Vitimin A) and create a harmless radical along with a potentially harmful carotenoid radical. The carotenoid radical, when it meets Vitamin C becomes a C radical (water soluable) and is then flushed out of the system. For this reason, it is important to combine your intake of Vitamins A and E with Vitamin C.

Selenium Selenium works in conjunction with Vitamin E. See section above.

Vitamin A - Vitamin A from animal sources such as liver, fish oils, egg yolks, and dairy products is a fat-soluable vitamin. Carotenoids (such as alpha and beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin and lycopene) from colorful fruits and vegetables, like carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, apricots, and leafy greens are compounds that the body can convert to retinol (a type of vitamin A) in the small intestine with the aid of enzymes. ßeta-carotene is the red-orange pigment that is responsible for carrots being orange. Carotenoids also have antioxidant properties, which are thought to contribute to their ability to neutralize free radicals that damage tissues. The carotenoid family includes alpha and beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin and lycopene.

People consuming diets rich in carotenoids from natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are healthier and have lower mortality from a number of chronic illnesses. However, consuming additional caratenoids from supplements is controversial and some studies indicate that under certain conditions it and may actually be harmful.

Vitamin C encourages the production of interferon, a protein in cells that helps keep viruses from spreading. Vitamin C rich fruits include kiwi fruit, strawberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, and lemon juice in hot water. Vitamin C rich vegetables include sweet red pepper, broccoli, kale, alfalfa sprouts, and cabbage.

Avoid taking mega-doses of vitamin C which can cause excess levels of iron to build up. Mega-doses of vitamin C can also interfere with some cancer treatments. Consuming vitamin-C rich food, however provides us with a safe level of vitamin C that is easily absorbed and packaged with other vitamins, phytochemicals, and nutrients that give us added protection.

"Esterfied" Vitamin C is pH nuetral and is not acidic to the stomach like absorbic acid. Non-esterfied Vitamin C is more quickly eliminated by the body. Vitamins C and D increase the absorbtion of calcium

Grape Seed Extract (Pycnogenol) is high in various phytochemicals, including a variety of bioflavonoids such as proanthrocyanins and anthrocyanins. Anthrocyanins and other flavonoids extracted from grape seeds are highly effective "scavengers" of harmful free radicals. Pycnogenols have been shown to be up to 50 times more effective than vitamin E and 20 times stronger thatn vitamin C in free-radical nuetralizing power.

Grape seed extract is now widely prescribed in France and Italy, where grapes are abundant, for a variety of maladies.

Pine bark extract
superoxide dismutase
BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
Alpha-lipoic acid

Plant antioxidants include garlic and ginko biloba. Seaweed is rich in antioxidants and selenium. Wakame, kombu, nori, hijiki, arame.

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