In this health video you will learn how oxidants and antioxidants help our body.
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Raena Morgan: Hello, I’m Raena Morgan and I’m visiting with Dr. Benjamin Weeks, who is a professor of biology at Adelphi University. We’re talking about vitamin C and its many uses. Antioxidants. We’re familiar with it, but, Dr. Weeks, what is an antioxidant? Dr. Benjamin S. Weeks: Well, first, before we talk about what an antioxidant is, let’s talk about what an oxidant is. Raena Morgan: All right. Dr. Benjamin S. Weeks: Okay. And an oxidant is actually a very, potentially very toxic molecule that forms when we metabolize, or break down, natural products that come into our body; foreign products, environmental products, toxins. As we try and metabolize these toxins pass them through our body, these toxins form very reactive molecules. They’re called reactive oxygen species. And they go about binding to the first thing they can find, which is not good because it will “gum” up your works. The antioxidants are molecules that are available to bind to the reactive oxygen species, to these metabolites, to the toxins to prevent gumming up important molecules. So they’re there to bind and clear out the toxin, so the toxin doesn’t bind to the healthy tissue in your body. So, vitamin C is one of these antioxidants. Raena Morgan: That’s what I was going to ask. Vitamin C. It is an antioxidant. Dr. Benjamin S. Weeks: Yes. Absolutely. There are a variety of antioxidants, many of them in fact. These are important to have in the body in order to detoxify the body. Vitamin C is a very important and very powerful antioxidant. And so, by taking vitamin C and supplementing with vitamin C, your body is protected from the insult from toxic hits, from environmental pollutants or drug taking drugs can create a problem as well. Raena Morgan: Because they’re toxic. Dr. Benjamin S. Weeks: They’re toxic. Any kind of toxin in the body, the antioxidant can help metabolize and clear out without having it bind to the tissue in the body. Actually, oxygen can be very toxic even though we need it to live and oxygen is also on a part of many of the pollutants that we take into our body. And the oxygen in a particular form can be very reactive. And when it’s reactive, it’s going to bind to any of the important molecules, or any of the important parts of your cell, and destroy your cell cause membrane damage, for example; damage the membranes. If, however, there’s vitamin C, an antioxidant, available to bind to that reactive toxin, then the reactive toxin won’t bind to your membrane and damage your membrane or bind to your DNA and cause cancer. Recent studies have shown that vitamin C may help to prevent cancer by serving as an antioxidant and prevent damage from these oxidants binding to DNA and creating DNA damage. The vitamin C binds to the oxidant as an antioxidant the vitamin C binds to the oxidant and prevents damage to membrane or DNA or other important structures of the cell. Raena Morgan: Thank you for explaining that. Dr. Benjamin S. Weeks: You’re welcome.