What is Oxidation

What is oxidation? I am no scientist, but it's a process we are all familiar with and one sees the effects of oxidation when one sees the rusting of metal, a slice of apple turning brown, or the aging process.

Oxidation Definition

The best definition of "what is oxidation" that I found is from WiseGeek.com.

"Oxidation is defined as the interaction between oxygen molecules and all the different substances they may contact, from metal to living tissue. Technically, however, with the discovery of electrons, oxidation came to be more precisely defined as the loss of at least one electron when two or more substances interact."

When there is a loss of an electron a free radical is formed. Free radicals are the result of normal chemical reactions in the body called oxidation which then leaves the body with thousands of unbalanced electrons.

These unstable electrons can then cause damage to our cells and especially the macula where there is a lot of oxidation. 

Keeping our free radicals in balance is extremely critical in the prevention of macular degeneration, in fighting disease in general, and in the aging battle. 

The Macula and Macular Pigment

The retina and especially the macula is very susceptible to oxidative stress because it consumes high levels of oxygen.

This is where the macular pigment comes in. It is a pigment found in the macula that protects the macula from oxidation.

"This pigment is thought to protect the retina from damage by light and excess oxidation, which over a lifetime can accumulate and contribute to the process of macular degeneration," says Dr. Max Snodderly, Mdical College of Georgia (MCG) vision scientist and Dr. Nolan's sponsor. 

According to Dr. John Nolan, vision scientist and Fulbright postdoctoral fellow in the MCG Department of Ophthalmology,

"It may be that once you go beyond 60, which is the age when macular degeneration typically starts developing, the pigment is depleted for several reasons, including increased oxidative stress and a poor diet, both associated with an increase in age." 

Increasing the concentration of these pigments in the eye may help prevent age-related macular degeneration. 

Conversely, if there is a thinning of this pigment, people are more susceptible to the damages of free radicals and blue light. 

Macular pigment can be increased with diet and/or dietary supplements of lutein and zeaxanthin. To learn more about this important pigment and how to increase your macular pigment denisity click here: Macular Pigment


Free Radicals and Antioxidants

What is oxidation? It is a normal body process that results in free radical formation. 

Processes required by the body such as 

breathing 

eating 

metabolism

exercise

cause oxidation and free radicals.

Other environmental factors like exposure to the sun, 

pollution and 

toxins in our water and food 

also cause free radicals and damage to our cells. 

This oxidation produces atoms with unpaired electrons which then try to steal from a healthy atom and in turn produces another free radical that causes damage to cell membranes and our DNA leading to many diseases and agingMany people compare oxidation in the body to a rust ing piece of metal. The end result is a damaged structure and decay.

Antioxidant Definition

So what can we do to fight off the damages of oxidation and free radicals? 

1) Reduce your exposure to toxins in your food, water and air you breathe

2) Increase your intake of antioxidants through eating antioxidant rich foods or with antioxidant health supplements. 

The definition of an antioxidant from the National Cancer Institute states:

"A substance that protects cells from the damage caused by free radicals (unstable molecules made by the process of oxidation during normal metabolism). Free radicals may play a part in

cancer, 

heart disease,

stroke, and 

other diseases of aging. "

They are molecules that help combat the harmful effects of free radicals by binding together with oxidant compounds in the body, and neutralizing their destructive properties. Antioxidants also help to repair cell damage caused by oxidants.

The body naturally produces antioxidant substances itself. These are called antioxidant enzymes. They include:

Catalase, 

Superoxide Dismutase, and 

Glutathione. 

These antioxidant compounds break down oxidants in the body into harmless substances like water or oxygen particles, which then leave the body without harming it. 

To learn more about how to incorporate antioxidants into your diet or if you should supplement click here: Macular Degeneration Vitamins

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