Cranking up the amount of antioxidants naturally produced in the body and directing those molecules to where they're needed can dramatically slow the aging process, according to a new study in mice. The finding adds credence to the controversial idea that antioxidants can extend life in people and other mammals.
Negatively charged molecular fragments generated by normal metabolism can damage cells and organs. Antioxidant molecules produced by cells or present in the diet can chemically neutralize those fragments, called free radicals, and stem the damage. One popular theory of aging dictates that with time, free radicals eventually overwhelm this natural defense, leading to various age-related declines.