Monday, March 1, 2010

Antioxidants And What Do We Have Against Free Radicals Anyway

Don't worry, we won't be discussing politics. The free radicals we will be talking about are harmful molecules that are responsible for aging and tissue damage in your dog's body and can ultimately lead to disease.

What are free radicals?

Without getting too scientific, free radicals are molecules that have been damaged.

More technically, free radicals are molecules that are missing an electron. They are incomplete and unstable. They will attack surrounding molecules and steal an electron from them in order to gain stability. The attacked molecule becomes a free radical itself and goes on attacking another and so on ... you get the picture.

You could say the situation with free radicals is a lot like a zombie movie. 

The un-dead are seeking out the living in order to prey on them, and the living who have been bitten by a zombie become un-dead themselves. This chain reaction continues until somebody figures out a way to stop it or the movie is over.

Where do free radicals come from?

Free radicals form as a by-product of your dog’s metabolism, immune response, or as a result of environmental stress. Pesticides, herbicides, air pollution, smoke, saturated fats, and processed foods all lead to formation of free radicals.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are nutrients that play a crucial role in protecting your dog's health.

Antioxidants are free radical scavengers.

They neutralize free radicals either by donating the missing electron or by breaking down the harmful molecules, thus protecting cells from damage.

Image source: Kris Health Blog
Antioxidants do not become free radicals themselves and remain stable, stopping the chain reaction. However, they are eventually used up in the process and that's why they need to be replaced through your dog’s diet.

Even in an ideal world, where there would be no outside causes of free radicals, your dog would still need antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals formed as a result of his own metabolism. With environmental stress as high as it is today, antioxidants are vital to keep your dog healthy.

Some antioxidants are produced by your dog's body naturally. Antioxidants that you can add through diet are
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
  • beta-carotene
  • flavonoids
  • SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine)
  • Superoxide Dismutase (S.O.D)
A diet rich in antioxidants will help to keep your dog healthy and vital.

A wholesome, complete and balanced diet should be your dog’s primary source of antioxidants. Your veterinarian should help you determine when antioxidant supplements would benefit your dog.

It's your dog's health,
Jana

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