A free radical scavenger is a vitamin, mineral, or enzyme that is able to destroy free radicals. The term "free radical" refers to a molecule that has one or more unpaired electrons. This makes them very unstable, and they move through the bloodstream, taking electrons from other cells or giving away unpaired ones. By doing so, free radicals cause cell damage that has been linked to a host of diseases including heart disease and cancer. The role of the free radical scavenger is to hunt down these unstable molecules and destroy them before they can cause significant cell damage within the body.
The free radical scavenger is often referred to as an antioxidant. They are generally found in certain foods, primarily dark colored fruits and vegetables like blueberries. These scavengers work by preventing the oxidation process that is required in order for electrons to be passed from one cell to another. The free radical scavenger removes the cells or prevents them from oxidizing simply by being oxidized itself within a close proximity. A body without enough free radical scavengers is at greater risk for housing free radicals and for developing serious diseases later in life.
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