Neuroscience

Antioxidant cocktail key to preventing Alzheimer's

Research from The University of Western Australia has found a diet rich in nutrients and antioxidants may prevent or even reverse the effects of Alzheimer's disease.

Psychology & Psychiatry

Scientists trace path from PTSD to heart disease

People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) face a higher risk of heart disease at an earlier age than people without PTSD. A new study helps explain why.

Health

Quinn on Nutrition: Root around for winter vegetables

We tend to classify them all together, but winter vegetables are not always the same as root vegetables. Nevertheless, these veggies deserve our attention during these cold winter months.

Genetics

Why we age: New theories gaining ground

Why do we age? It's a question that has had scientists scratching their heads for decades, but finally, we are starting to get some answers. Here is the story so far.

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Antioxidant

An antioxidant is a molecule capable of slowing or preventing the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons from a substance to an oxidizing agent. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals, which start chain reactions that damage cells. Antioxidants terminate these chain reactions by removing free radical intermediates, and inhibit other oxidation reactions by being oxidized themselves. As a result, antioxidants are often reducing agents such as thiols, ascorbic acid or polyphenols.

Although oxidation reactions are crucial for life, they can also be damaging; hence, plants and animals maintain complex systems of multiple types of antioxidants, such as glutathione, vitamin C, and vitamin E as well as enzymes such as catalase, superoxide dismutase and various peroxidases. Low levels of antioxidants, or inhibition of the antioxidant enzymes, causes oxidative stress and may damage or kill cells.

As oxidative stress might be an important part of many human diseases, the use of antioxidants in pharmacology is intensively studied, particularly as treatments for stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. However, it is unknown whether oxidative stress is the cause or the consequence of disease. Antioxidants are also widely used as ingredients in dietary supplements in the hope of maintaining health and preventing diseases such as cancer and coronary heart disease. Although initial studies suggested that antioxidant supplements might promote health, later large clinical trials did not detect any benefit and suggested instead that excess supplementation may be harmful. In addition to these uses of natural antioxidants in medicine, these compounds have many industrial uses, such as preservatives in food and cosmetics and preventing the degradation of rubber and gasoline.

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