Recent research shows that antioxidants are key in fighting over 70 chronic degenerative diseases when taken orally and are the building blocks to improving the texture and cellular structure of the skin when applied topically. Even more striking are studies suggesting that antioxidants do not work alone. In fact, when compatible antioxidants are combined, the effect of each individual component is greater than a simple additive effect. This synergy of antioxidants is called the antioxidant networking system.
There are dozens of antioxidants that perform various functions, but there are five in particular that make up the networking system and are considered the “powerhouse antioxidants.” These include alpha-lipoic acid, CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10), Vitamins C, and E, and glutathione.
When taken alone, each of the five powerhouse antioxidants plays a significant role within the cell. For example, Vitamin E, which is lipid-soluble, is the primary antioxidant that works within the fatty or lipophillic cell membrane. It is excellent for fighting heart-related diseases, oxidation from UV rays, and various forms of cancer. Vitamin C, on the other hand, is a water soluble or hydrophillic antioxidant unsurpassed in enhancing the immune system and helping the skin’s dermal layer produce collagen and supports an increase in the cell turnover rate of the epidermal layer of skin.
However, the most remarkable phenomenon in the relationship between Vitamin C and E is that Vitamin C possesses the ability to recycle “used” Vitamin E to extend the beneficial effects of a Vitamin E molecule. In other words, after a Vitamin E molecule engulfs a free radical and becomes a weak free radical itself, a Vitamin C molecule can recharge the Vitamin E back to its original antioxidant state.
This ability to recycle used molecules is applicable for all five networking antioxidants and a component of the synergy seen between them. For instance, by adding glutathione, an antioxidant that restores Vitamin C and is an excellent antioxidant for detoxification of the liver or regulation of inflammatory diseases, with Vitamin C and E, you can enhance the effects of both Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
Of the five networking antioxidants, alpha-lipoic acid, in particular, is considered to be a superior antioxidant because of its solubility in both water and oil. Because water and oil do not mix, most antioxidants can only function in either the core of a cell, which is composed mainly of water or the surrounding fatty oil-based membrane. However, the unique dual solubility of alpha-lipoic acid allows it to work throughout the entire cell: in both the core and membrane of the cell. This duality also gives alpha-lipoic acid the ability to regenerate all five of the networking antioxidants, including itself.
As you can see, as the powerhouse antioxidants work together in a synergistic relationship, the cumulative effect of all five antioxidants plays a tremendous and vital role in healing existing illness and preventing future diseases in our bodies and on our skin.
Packer, Lester. The Antioxidant Miracle. 1999.
Reference: Packman, L. The Antioxidant Miracle. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1999.