Grape Seed Extract Antioxidant – Benefits and Information
Grape seed extract is a powerful antioxidant made by extracting substances called oligomeric proanthocyanidins from the seeds and skin of grapes. As an antioxidant, grape seed extract works as a free radical scavenger. It binds to the unpaired electrons of free radicals, which are byproducts of oxygen reactions in the body.
Free radicals are the result of metabolic reactions that occur in the body every day as a result of exercise, smoking, pollution and other factors. While a stable oxygen atom has eight electrons, a free radical has only seven. Left alone, these unstable molecules are capable of causing significant damage to the body as they seek another electron for stability.
Free radicals accelerate the aging process and contribute to the development of cancer cells. In order to keep free radicals from causing excessive damage to body tissue, antioxidants are needed to provide the electron needed to stabilize them.
Many substances, including phytochemicals (plant extracts) like grape seed, as well as some vitamins and minerals, have antioxidant properties. Grape seed extract is thought to be one of the most powerful of these antioxidants, considered to be 20 times more powerful than vitamin C and 50 times more powerful than vitamin E. It belongs to a class of antioxidant phytochemicals known as bioflavonoids, which are found in fruits, vegetables, grains and seeds.
In Europe, grape seed extract is prescribed to treat cardiovascular disease, varicose veins, water retention, and arthritis. Because it is used pharmacologically, it has undergone extensive testing.
Numerous clinical studies support claims that grape seed extract has a variety of positive effects on health.
For example, it is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier so it can act on the brain and spinal nerves, protecting the nervous system from free radical damage. It can also bind to collagen fibers, increasing muscle flexibility and elasticity of tendons and ligaments.
A related benefit is the ability of grape seed extract to fight high blood pressure by acting as a muscle relaxant in blood vessels. In addition, it prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, a key factor in the development of cardiovascular disease. Grape seed extract can also prevent blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots that can cause strokes.
Grape seed extract is available in tablet, liquid and capsule form. A quality product should be standardized to contain at least 92% proanthocyanidins. It is generally taken in daily doses of 100 mg for general antioxidant use and cancer-prevention.
Smokers can take up to three times that amount. For specific ailments, the recommended dosage of grape seed extract is 100 mg three times a day. Grape seed extract can be taken any time of day, but it should be taken at the same time every day. To be of benefit, it must be taken on a regular basis to maintain blood levels of proanthocyanidins. Grape seed extract is extremely safe, with no significant reactions or toxicity reported from supplement use.
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