ARE YOU TAKING ENOUGH ANTI-OXIDANTS? · Parkinson's Resource Organization




According to the US National Library of Medicine, free radicals and oxidants play a dual role as both toxic and beneficial compounds, since they can be either harmful or helpful to the body. They are produced either from normal cell metabolisms in situ or from external sources (pollution, cigarette smoke, radiation, medication). When an overload of free radicals cannot gradually be destroyed, their accumulation in the body generates a phenomenon called oxidative stress. This process plays a major part in the development of chronic and degenerative illnesses such as cancer, autoimmune disorders, aging, cataract, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases. The human body has several mechanisms to counteract oxidative stress by producing antioxidants, which are either naturally produced in situ, or externally supplied through foods and/or supplements. 

When produced in excess, free radicals and oxidants generate a phenomenon called oxidative stress, a deleterious process that can seriously alter the cell membranes and other structures such as proteins, lipids, lipoproteins, and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Oxidative stress can arise when cells cannot adequately destroy the excess of free radicals formed.

Like turmeric, black pepper contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it potentially helpful for managing inflammatory conditions and reducing free-radical damage. 

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that stops the production of Reactive Oxygen Species formed when fat undergoes oxidation. Scientists are investigating whether, by limiting free-radical production and possibly through other mechanisms, vitamin E might help prevent or delay the chronic diseases associated with free radicals

According to Web MD, Pycnogenol is a compound of natural chemicals. It comes from the bark of a European pine tree. Pycnogenol is thought to be an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage. Pycnogenol is the registered trademark name for a French formula. The active ingredients in pycnogenol can also be extracted from other sources, including peanut skin, grape seed, and witch hazel bark. Pycnogenol seems to help with asthma and allergies. Early research shows that taking it at least 5 weeks before the start of allergy season seems to lessen symptoms.

In a small/preliminary study of kids with asthma, pycnogenol helped improve symptoms. It also lessened the amount of asthma medication they needed.

Pycnogenol may have benefits for heart and artery health. It seems to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the legs. Some small studies suggest it may also protect against coronary artery disease and blood clots.

There's good evidence that pycnogenol helps with eye damage caused by diabetes.  There is limited evidence that it could be used in treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

  More research is needed to see how this supplement affects all of these conditions.

According to MedicineNet, Antioxidants: The Good Health Helpers, Well-known dietary antioxidants, and their sources include:

  • Beta-carotene: carrots, squashes, sweet potatoes.

  • Lycopene: pink grapefruit, tomatoes (cooked), watermelon.

  • Lutein: most leafy green vegetables.

  • Selenium: grains, protein sources, nuts, legumes.

  • Vitamin A: butter, eggs, milk, liver.

  • Vitamin C: berries, oranges, and other citrus, cantaloupe, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, papaya, tomatoes.

  • Vitamin E: almonds, hazelnuts, other nuts and seeds, and their oils.

According to the Abstract Free Radicals In Parkinson's Disease Koutsilieri E1, Scheller C, Grünblatt E, Nara K, Li J, Riederer P., although there are a number of hypotheses to explain the pathobiochemistry of Parkinson's disease, the one on oxidative stress has gained major interest. The evidence for Oxidative Stress participation as a cause of Parkinson’s can be summarized as follows: 1) Oxidative Stress is involved in physiological aging, 2) there is ample evidence that Oxidative Stress is significantly enhanced in Parkinson’s compared to age-matched healthy persons, 3) Oxidative Stress is an early feature of Parkinson’s because Oxidative stress-dependent aggregation of proteins in the form of advanced glycation end products can be imaged in Lewy bodies at a time in a person's life, when no phenotype of a neurodegenerative disorder is evident, 4) Experimental models of Parkinson’s show Oxidative Stress and degeneration of dopaminergic neurons. The toxin-induced neurodegeneration can be blocked by antioxidants, and 5) Activated microglia, known to release free radicals and inflammatory cytokines, are present in the brains of Parkinsonian patients. In conclusion, a great body of evidence points to the view that Oxidative Stress is a major component underlying the pathobiochemistry of Parkinson’s. Together a genetic disposition and endogenous/exogenous toxic events of various origins result in a synergistic cascade of toxicity which leads to dysfunction and finally to cell death of dopaminergic neurons. Again, Oxidative Stress plays a significant role in generating cell death signals, including apoptosis.

Do your own research, meet with your nutritionist, medical professional who understands nutrients, vitamins, and supplements, and determine if you are taking enough antioxidants for your condition.

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Updated: August 16, 2017