Oxidative Damage
Oxidative Damage

Oxidative Damage

In the natural process of oxidation (turning oxygen into needed energy), our bodies produce toxins called reactive oxygen species (ROS). Although these molecules can damage cells, substances called antioxidants, many of which come from dietary sources, often render them harmless before they can cause too much mischief. As we age, however, this process becomes more inefficient. Increased ROS—and the associated oxidative damage they do—have been implicated in many age-associated diseases, from cancer to Alzheimer's. Some researchers have even suggested that this damage may be central to the aging process itself.

Scientists are now investigating how a diet rich in antioxidants can limit the harm caused by oxidative damage and perhaps even slow aging. Such a diet would include generous amounts of fruits and vegetables that have deep or vibrant colors and whole grains. Investigators are also looking at supplements as reliable sources of antioxidants, but the evidence to date for their safety and effectiveness is mixed at best.

Learn More
Take a look at our Infoaging Guide to Oxidative Damage and Aging.

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