Free Radical Damage

Free Radical Damage

Free radicals are molecules that are unstable or volatile, and consequently have the capacity to damage tissues that they come into contact with. Free radical damage to cells and the structures they form is believed to contribute to the development of many of the chronic diseases associated with ageing. Antioxidants are compounds that restore balance to free radicals, making them more stable, and limiting the damage they cause.


  • Free radical damage is believed to contribute to many of the chronic health problems that we become more susceptible to as we get older. In many cases, no symptoms are experienced until cellular damage has progressed quite substantially.
  • Free radical damage to cholesterol molecules intensifies their potential to damage blood vessels which may contribute to Heart and  Circulatory Problems
  • Age-related Macular Degeneration, cataract and other eye problems, may be from free radical damage to the blood vessels of the eyes
  • Blood sugar imbalances predispose the body to free radical damage, increasing the risk of complications associated with the disease
  • Ageing and wrinkling of the skin is also partly related to free radical damage, and tends to be more significant in people who have smoked, sunbaked or otherwise had a high free radical load
  • Poor sperm health may be due to free radical damage


  • Free radical activity is a normal aspect of physiology, occurring as the natural consequence of many of the body's processes, especially those involving oxygen
  • Additional free radical activity may be generated through exposure to toxic compounds (e.g. cigarette smoke, pollutants, drugs), strenuous physical activity, Stress, the consumption of unhealthy fats (e.g. trans fats and saturated fats) and sun exposure
  • The balance of free radicals and antioxidants may become disturbed if dietary consumption of antioxidant-rich foods is inadequate. Deficiencies of key nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, zinc and selenium, carotenoids and flavonoids may all increase free radical damage

Nutritional & Herbal Support

  • Ginkgo Biloba, Grape Seed and Bilberry are antioxidants that provide extra support to the blood vessels and are traditionally regarded as circulatory stimulants
  • Turmeric has an antioxidant action that can assist in protecting the cells in the body from the damaging effects of free radicals.
  • Milk thistle has been shown to have antioxidant effects on liver cells, helping to protect them from toxins and free radical damage
  • Grape seed supports the health of the capillaries and other blood vessels, and improves Circulatory Problems
  • Bilberries and other blue-purple fruit contain Anthocyanosides which help to protect the blood vessels of the eyes
  • Cranberry acts as an antioxidant and helps reduce free radicals that are formed in the body during normal metabolism and on exposure to environmental factors.
  • Smokers require greater quantities of Vitamin C and smoking depletes this important nutrient

Diet & Lifestyle advice

  • Include plenty of nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables in your diet to ensure that you are consuming a wide variety of antioxidants
  • Adopting a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in olive oil, vegetables, legumes, seafood and fruit, and including small to moderate quantities of red wine is an enjoyable way to have an antioxidant-rich, Heart Healthy diet
  • Avoid saturated fats (e.g. from animal products), deep-fried foods and trans fats (found in some margarines, baked goods and other pre-prepared foods)
  • Restrict your alcohol consumption to a maximum of 1-2 serves per day, preferably of red wine, which is rich in antioxidants. Don't binge drink
  • Avoid smoking as it generates free radicals
  • Take steps to manage your Stress levels. Learning and practicing meditation or relaxation techniques may be beneficial
  • Avoid dust, fumes and pollution, and always use appropriate protection if you are exposed to airborne pollutants at home or work
  • Protect your eyes from glare by wearing UV-rated sunglasses when outdoors

If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Information provided is of a general nature and should not replace that of your healthcare professional.

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