Thursday, March 13, 2008

Internal Respiration and Antioxidants

We inhale air but it is the oxygen in the air that the body requires for internal respiration of the body cells. Where does the oxygen in the air come from? It comes from the photosynthesis activity of chlorophyll in plants. How does the oxygen in the air we inhale get to the cells in our body? From our lungs it passes into the circulatory system and attaches to the hemoglobin molecules in the red blood cells. Capillaries, very narrow blood vessels, pass close to the cells and and allow the oxygen to be released from the hemoglobin and pass through tissue and into the body cells.

There has been a very widespread effort in the past several years to encourage people to eat and drink foods containing antioxidants for the health benefit they provide. An example is the drive encouraging people to drink green tea. Supposedly this is to prevent the oxidation of the electrolytes in the blood.

Something to think about: If we ingest a high number of antioxidants do we inhibit internal respiration by reducing the oxidation of carbon in our cells? It is this oxidation of carbon that provides energy for our body. It is a flameless process similar to burning coal or oil to get heat energy. Within the cells the oxidation of carbon forms carbondioxide creating energy. The carbondioxide is carried by the blood to our lungs to be exhaled.

How much is too much antioxidant? Could a person ingest enough antioxidants to interfere with internal respiration and experience suffocation?

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