Most people are familiar with the term "antioxidant" but don't fully comprehend its role or importance in the human body. Antioxidants are a class of molecules that are produced by the body and occur naturally in many foods. Their primary function is to contain and neutralize something called "free radicals". Free radicals are highly charged particles that are formed in the normal course of energy production which is commonly referred to as oxidative stress. The same thing happens to a piece of fruit that gets over-ripe and turns brown. It is undergoing oxidative stress. This is why we can preserve food longer by removing oxygen from food storage containers.
A similar process occurs inside our body when we breath, causing oxidative stress which produces these free radicals. Unfortunately, oxygen is the least of our worries when it comes to oxidative stress. There are many substances in our surrounding environment--certain chemicals, food, preservatives, smoke, air and water pollutants, and solar radiation to name a few--that trigger the production of these molecules. If not contained, free radicals can cause extensive damage to cells and tissue. Scientists now believe that these highly charged particles are causal factors in nearly every known disease, from heart disease to arthritis to cancer. In fact, free radicals are a major culprit in the aging process itself. Dr Lester Packer from University of California, Berkeley has spent the last 40 years studying antioxidants and is considered one of the most knowledgeable authorities on the subject today. He estimates that over 70% of Americans will die prematurely from diseases caused by or compounded by deficiencies of antioxidants.
The FDA's answer for getting your daily antioxidants has been to consume at least 4-5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day. These fruits and vegetables contain something called phytochemicals that act as great antioxidants. The major problem is that these chemicals are not produced in the fruit until the last stages of ripening, so if the fruit is picked green, like most of the fruit we buy in the market, there are little or no phytochemicals present. In addition, heating or cooking vegetables destroys phytochemicals; you have to eat them raw to really benefit from these molecules. Recent published studies show that the vitamin/nutritional content of the average vegetable/fruit has declined by up to 50% in the last 50 years due to depletion of nutrients in our soils, so, based on this information, a person really needs to eat 8-10 servings/day to get the optimal amount of antioxidants needed. This would obviously be very difficult even for someone who loves raw fruits and vegetables. Our bodies make their own antioxidant called glutathione but in today's toxic environment, it is not enough. According to Dr. Packer, it is almost impossible to get enough antioxidants from food alone. You have to resort to supplements. In todays market, there are dozens of different antioxidant formulas to choose from, leading to difficult decisions for the consumer. Traditionally, high doses of Vitamin C and E were considered good antioxidant regiments. Recent research has shown that these vitamins in their pure form are not very effective and can even cause a pro-oxidative stress in high doses. What scientists are finding is that antioxidants are much more effective when there is a wide variety of different antioxidants consumed together in a natural whole food matrix. Whole foods provide numerous compounds that can enhance antioxidant function, while supplements often provide pure forms of isolated nutrients that lack the accompanying nutrients necessary for proper function. Also, nutrients in foods can be released more slowly than those in pure supplement form. The large doses of highly bioavailable antioxidants may result in a brief spike in blood plasma antioxidant levels (which may exceed healthy levels) followed by a return to deficient levels. In contrast, whole food based supplements may offer more subtle and sustained protection. They have also proven that there is a synergistic effect when you combine an array of different antioxidants that make the formulation much stronger than the sum of the individual parts.
A Nutraceutical research and development firm out of Texas set out several years ago with the goal of using this new data to develop the most effective antioxidant possible. In the initial stages of their research they discovered a major flaw in the industry's standard measuring technique. Antioxidant strength has been traditionally measured by a test called the ORAC test (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). You can check the ORAC value on any bottle of antioxidants you buy. The problem they encountered was that the ORAC test only measured for water-soluble antioxidant activity while the body depends on both water-soluble and lipid (fat) soluble antioxidants. Mannatech's scientists spent considerable time and research developing and patenting a new test that would test for water-soluble as well as fat-soluble antioxidants at the same time giving a much more accurate evaluation of antioxidant strength. They named this new test ORACo.
They started their research by looking at some of the oldest populations on the planet with the goal of studying their diet. This led them to the Aborigines in the outbacks of Australia who routinely live to a 100 years of age. In looking at their diet, they discovered the Australian Bush Plum that had been an integral part of their diet as well as a cultural symbol for hundreds of years. The bush plum grows wild in the outback which is a very harsh environment. Testing revealed it to contain the highest content of Vitamin C per gram of any known natural source. Scientist have known that the more harsh an environment, the more antioxidants a plant produces to protect itself. This company formed a partnership with the Aborigines to start a new agricultural industry around the growth and harvest of this plum. They built a state of the art freeze-drying plant in the middle of the out-back in order to process the plums to preserve the high natural Vitamin C in a whole food matrix.
They then proceeded to mix different water-soluble and lipid-soluble antioxidants looking for a perfect synergistic blend. Using the ORACo test, they were able to come up with the best combination of molecules to achieve the strongest antioxidant with the longest duration. The final formula includes Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), grape seed extract, green tea extract, quercetin, Australian Bush Plum, PhytAloe (Mannatech's blend of freeze-dried kale, Brussels sprouts, garlic, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, onion, tomato, turnip, broccoli, papaya, and pineapple) as well as the newly discovered eight essential monosaccharides. Although these sugar molecules are not antioxidants by themselves, they have proven to work synergistically with antioxidants to increase their bio-availability. They facilitate a slow gradual release of the antioxidants thus increasing the total duration of effectiveness and avoiding sharp spikes in blood plasma levels. In addition, they greatly enhance cell to cell communication, a vital function of every cell in the body.
Independent laboratory testing using the ORACo test showed this new formulation to have an ORAC rating of 17,254 units. The highest rating of over 90 products found on the market tested at 5,674 units and the average of all the products tested was 1,700 units.
In addition this new product was compared to a recent study done by the FDA where blood plasma levels of antioxidants were tested after having participants consumed an additional 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. It was determined that by doubling your intake of fruits and vegetables to 10 servings per day, one could increase their antioxidant protection by 13%. Tests using the same protocol but substituting 2 capsules of this product in place of the extra 5 servings of fruits and vegetables increased the blood serum levels by 37.4%!
In a time when antioxidants are becoming more and more a focus of clinical nutrition, this company feels they have come up with an extremely powerful formula to increase our body's antioxidant ability. You can read more about this subject on www.mannatechscience.org, an award winning science information web site dedicated to the science of glycobiology.
Yours In Health,
Dr. Roy Murrell, DC 200 NE 20th Avenue, Suite 140 Portland Oregon 97232 - disclaimer - 971-312-9497