Topic of the Month
1 November 2010
Among the components in foodstuff that contribute to health, micronutrients such as vitamins, carotenoids and minerals are essential. A key factor in maintaining health is the ‘ antioxidant ’ capacity of several micronutrients. Such antioxidants are thought to reduce the risks of chronic illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases through their ability to supplement cellular defense systems (e.g. antioxidant enzymes) in removing “ Reactive Oxygen Species ” (ROS) and “Reactive Nitrogen Species” (RNS). ROS and RNS are highly reactive “free radicals,” which are produced during the body’s normal energy-generating process. These free radicals (or “pro-oxidants”) trigger chain reactions, resulting in the rapid oxidation of cellular molecules. The increased exposure to free radicals, known as “ oxidative or nitrosative stress ”, can lead to DNA, lipid and protein damage and potentially increase the risk of cardiovascular illnesses and cancer.