Antioxidants: Can they really fight age-related free radical damage?
Free radicals and the damage done
Your body is a battlefield. Every day, free radicals wage war against your cells – think of a free radical as a tiny speeding car with one flat tire, careening into the metaphorical bushes and mailboxes of your cells. Free radicals create cellular damage because they are highly unstable molecules that are capable of disrupting other molecules. The flat tire represents a missing electron – and free radicals aren’t afraid to steal a new tire from molecules in your body to regain stability. They’re a natural part of many body processes, and can also come from environmental pollutants.
Luckily, your body comes with its own built-in defence system – antioxidants. Antioxidants effectively take away the keys to the truck by neutralizing free radicals so they can no longer damage your cells.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are certain vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and other compounds that prevent and repair the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. The most commonly cited antioxidants are vitamins A, C, and E, as well as zinc and selenium, but fresh fruits and vegetables – and your own cells – offer a veritable wealth of antioxidants that work wonders in your body.
These helpful molecules circulate your body like street sweepers, mopping up free radicals as they go. Some antioxidants are capable of suppressing the formation of free radicals, while some work to “quench” the damaging molecules, and others still repair damage to cells and DNA (Lobo et al., 2010).
Antioxidants are vital to health, and support everything from a healthy heart to youthful skin. They are especially useful for fighting inflammation, which in turn maintains healthy circulation, capillaries, and blood vessel walls, reduces joint and tissue inflammation, and improves skin smoothness and elasticity.
Pycnogenol®: An antioxidant apart
Pine bark tea once saved the lives of malnourished sailors landing in the New World; today, the pine bark extract known as pycnogenol offers up one of the most effective antioxidants available. This scavenger of free radicals fights oxidative damage in two ways: it stimulates our cells to double their own antioxidant power, and cleans up free radicals in the blood stream (Devaraj et al., 2002). The antioxidant power of Pycnogenol is 20 times greater than vitamin C, and 50 times greater than vitamin E.
Inflammation and free radical damage increase as we age, while production of key antioxidants decreases. The result is written on our skin in the form of fine lines, roughness, and other skin damage. We also feel it in our bodies as joint inflammation and poor circulation.
When it comes to fighting free radical damage, pycnogenol is in a class of its own. This antioxidant has shown many benefits, as it:
- Helps restore the integrity of tissues and reduces the visible signs of aging
- Increases nitric oxide production, which helps dilate blood vessels (Nishioki, et al. 2007)
- Improves peripheral circulation and reduces venous insufficiency (Petrassi et al., 2000)
- Promotes the production of collagen for smooth, supple, younger-looking skin (Segger et al., 2004)
- Increases hyaluronic acid production to lubricate joints (Belcaro et al., 2008)
Natural Factors Pycnogenol provides a standardized 25 mg dose of the world’s most well-researched pine bark extract. It’s been used in over 300 clinical trials. The patented extract is sourced from the bark of pine trees grown exclusively in southwest France using no pesticides or herbicides, and is extracted using a safe, chemical-free process that guarantees the potency and purity of Pycnogenol’s active compounds.
Pycnogenol is ideal for anyone looking for the convenience of an antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory in one product, and people who want to combat the signs of aging by increasing their antioxidant intake.