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Are You Getting Enough Antioxidants

Rosemarie Diane Rose, MD, is a member of Inova Steinmetz Integrative and Functional Medicine Center board certified in family medicine. She has a special interest in functional and integrative medicine, including acupuncture. Read Dr. Rose’s profile.

We hear a lot these days about antioxidants, substances in food that help our bodies stop “free radicals” from wreaking havoc on our cells. Free radicals are byproducts of normal metabolic processes called oxidation, but they must undergo a process called reduction or they can harm cell membranes, cellular energy factories, and even DNA. If we have an abundance of free radicals and not enough antioxidants our bodies are in a state of “oxidative stress” and we are more likely to develop cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, fatigue and a host of other diseases.

Depending on their health and genetics, some people have greatly increased need for antioxidants compared to the general population. So how can you tell if your body is under oxidative stress? And are you getting enough antioxidants and other supportive nutrients to tip the balance in your favor? There are tests available that can help answer these questions.

At Inova Steinmetz Integrative and Functional Medicine Center, we use the Genova Oxidative Stress Profile. This test analyzes substances like glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and lipid peroxides in order to answer three questions: whether you have sufficient reserves of antioxidants; whether the enzymes our body uses to reduce the free radicals are functioning properly; and whether there is evidence of ongoing tissue damage. Armed with this information, we can make specific recommendations for changes in your diet and nutrition, and for adequate dosage of antioxidants and other supportive supplements. We may also recommend further investigation if it appears there are other conditions present that may be contributing to oxidative stress.

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