Don't Be a Radical, Take Antioxidants

Back in 1965 when John and Susan Carlson started their own vitamin company, taking any kind of vitamin was a radical move. In fact, sharing their research and discoveries with allopathic doctors often got both Carlsons thrown out of the office. The type of radicals they come into contact with these days, however, are the excess free radicals we absorb from our environment as well as oxidant by-products created by our bodies. Some environmental sources of free radicals include pollution, cigarette smoke, radiation, ozone, and pesticides. Although free radicals are the by-products of each cell's metabolism, too many begin to weaken our immune system, making us vulnerable to colds, flus, chronic arthritis, and other diseases.Free radicals are well-named because their molecules have only a single "radical" electron, rather than the pair of electrons that stabilize a healthy cell. This electron tends to cheat; if it is not checked, it will steal a partner from a molecule with a healthy pair. This sets off a chain reaction that destabilizes molecules from surrounding cells, weakening organs and eventually resulting in conditions such as heart disease, accelerated aging, and disorganized cell growth that may result in cancer.Susan Carlson, pharmacist, Vice President and Quality Control Director of J.R. Carlson Laboratories, first became intrigued with the power of vitamins when she was still a girl and her father (who is also a pharmacist) battled a heart condition and severe angina pain with natural vitamin E. A visit to the famous Shute Institute and Medical Clinic of Canada, where Drs. Evan and Wilfred Shute pioneered studies of vitamin E, inspired Susan and John to start their own company, with John as President. Since the type of vitamin E that had been most effective for the senior Carlson wasn't available commercially, John and Susan decided to make it available. For 30 years now, Carlson Labs has been producing quality supplements for sale only in smaller health food stores and coops. "Being a family of pharmacists, and having been into pharmaceutical manufacture, we soon began making the type of vitamin E Dad needed and then began making it available to others as well," Susan explained.For a good, strong immune system, as well as for battling colds and flus, the Carlsons recommend taking a good multi-vitamin daily and adding other vitamins and nutrients selectively, based on individual and seasonal needs. When I admitted that my mother had been (and still is) a strong champion of vitamin C, Susan rallied right behind her, describing their mild-C crystalline powder that dissolves readily in juice and other liquids. "I usually put several scoops right into the orange juice in the fridge and the kids can't even taste it," she says. "It's a great way to boost the system without much effort."In addition, vitamins A, E, and Selenium are strong aids to the immune system for their capacity to neutralize free radicals and reinforce the activity of each other. If there's one thing the Carlsons stress, it's that vitamins work best when they're not alone. In order to be truly effective, they need other parts of the alphabet behind them.One predominant type of free radical is derived from the body's metabolism of oxygen and its defense against foreign invasion, like microbial infection flying through the air on a sneeze. In order for the body to generate energy and fight off disease, the cells must acquire oxygen, but wastes are created in exchange. Like the Earth, the body is equipped to neutralize and defend against only so many wastes before cells begin to deteriorate.The body fights free radicals in two ways. First, enzymes within the body convert them into harmless substances like water and stable oxygen. Second, nutrients called antioxidants swim in our blood stream and stake claims in all our cells and organs, serving to neutralize free radicals and helping to prevent deterioration. With the onslaught of pollution and the deterioration of freshness and nutritional value in our food, it's a good idea to supplement your diet with additional antioxidants in order to help your body defend itself.Vitamin A works as an antioxidant when it neutralizes existing free radicals directly by quenching their thirst for another electron. Beta carotene is a safe source of vitamin A because the body converts it to vitamin A only according to demonstrated need.Vitamin E is resides within the cell membrane, the protective covering that surrounds a cell. There it acts as a shield, barring free radicals from stealing an electron and destabilizing the system. Vitamin E is also essential in protecting us against the ill effects of smog and smoke. Ozone, for example, can form free radicals which can affect lung tissue and blood cells. In relation to other vitamins, E protects A from being destroyed in the body. It also works well when teamed up with Selenium.Vitamin C works to deactivate free radicals. It works primarily in the liquid areas of the body such as the blood, lung, and eye fluids, and in between cells. Vitamin C can increase white blood cell activity, enhance antibody production, and directly destroy some types of bacteria and viruses. C also has the ability to recycle vitamin E. After E has neutralized a free radical, it becomes inactive and will usually be excreted. Vitamin C, however, can convert the used vitamin E back to an active antioxidant so that it can keep on neutralizing free radicals.Selenium is one of ten essential trace minerals and an important component of an antioxidant enzyme known as glutathione peroxidase, for the body only produces as much glutathione as it has Selenium. Selenium also works to neutralize the harmful elements of hydrogen peroxide in free radicals. Selenium acts well in concert with vitamin E and is also required for proper muscle tone and functioning.J.R. Carlson Laboratories now produces a very convenient antioxidant supplement which combines all four of these nutrients, called ACES and ACES GOLD. Like free radicals, Carlson's ACES are well named: they enable your body to trump free radicals (with A, C, E, and Selenium) and move on to other important business--like providing you with energy to enjoy your good health.

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