Toxins are a reality of life in the 21st Century. Each day we are bombarded with toxins in everything from the air we breathe (cigarette smoke, air pollution), to the foods we eat (pesticides, toxic metals), to the clothes we wear (dyes, synthetic fabrics) and the water we drink (chemicals, disinfectants). A healthy body can neutralize small amounts of toxins before they become harmful, but prolonged exposure to toxins can cause serious health problems.
Vitamin C experts agree that properly-dosed vitamin C may be the best way to protect the body from the damaging effects of toxins. But how does vitamin C actually do this?
It all comes down to the one thing that all toxins have in common – toxins cause their damage through oxidation. No exceptions!
- The process of a substance losing electrons.
- The process of a substance gaining electrons, or having them restored.
The same basic process that rusts away metal outside of the body, breaks down biomolecules inside the body – this is oxidation. Once a biomolecule is oxidized, its ability to do its job is compromised or eliminated completely; unless the oxidation can be reversed (or reduced), restoring the molecule to its normal structure, allowing it to do its job.
When a toxin is introduced to the body, it produces substances known as “reactive oxygen species (ROS).” Many ROS are free radicals, which are highly unstable molecules containing one or more unpaired electrons, causing them to seek additional electrons. These free radicals take the electrons from otherwise healthy cells. When electrons are taken, the cells are damaged or oxidized.
Antioxidants like vitamin C restore the electron content of oxidized biomolecules by donating their own electrons. An ample supply of antioxidants can even prevent biomolecules from becoming oxidized in the first place. When the body is deficient in antioxidants, however, free radicals can accumulate quickly and cause excessive amounts of oxidation.
Fortunately, Vitamin C’s simple chemical structure allows it access to nearly all parts of the body, including inside the cell and the cell’s subcellular compartments. By donating its electrons to oxidized biomolecules, properly-dosed vitamin C can neutralize the toxicity of any toxin exposure in nearly any part of the body, if administered before the point of irreversible tissue damage.
Oxidized Antioxidants vs Toxins
When vitamin C, or any other antioxidant, has donated its elec¬trons, it becomes an oxidized antioxidant because it needs additional electrons to resume its reduced, or active, state. But it does not become a toxin.
The difference between a toxin looking to take up electrons (oxidation) and an oxidized antioxidant looking to take up electrons (oxidation) involves several factors:
- Once a toxin has taken the electrons away from a biomolecule (oxidation), it will never re-donate the electrons to any other molecule seeking electrons. A toxin will never perform an antioxidant function, even if it has enough electrons to do so.
- An antioxidant, such as vitamin C, is a classic redox (reduction-oxidation) molecule. This means that vitamin C is designed to take and give electrons repeatedly. When magnified millions of times, you can see that vitamin C molecules promote electron flow through the cell by taking and giving electrons over and over again.
- A toxin, on the other hand, only takes and keeps the electrons it extracts from the molecules it oxidizes. Toxins block electron flow by physically interfering with the ability of normal biomolecules and normal cellular antioxidants to interact with each other. Most often this interference is simply a result of accumulation. If the toxin is not mobilized and excreted, it will eventually accumulate and impair normal biomolecule function.