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ABSTRACT

The important roles of reactive oxygen species in diseases related to aging and the necessity and benefits of antioxidative nutraceuticals in the prevention of diseases and promotion of healthy aging have been extensively reported in recent years. Oxygen is an essential component of living organisms. The generation of reactive oxygen species such as superoxide anion, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radicals, and singlet oxygen is inevitable in aerobic metabolism of the body. Reactive oxygen species cause lipid oxidation, protein oxidation, DNA strand break and base modification, and modulation of gene expression. In the past several years, unprecedented progress has been made in the recognition and understanding of roles of reactive oxygen species in many diseases. These include atherosclerosis, vasospasms, cancers, trauma, stroke, asthma, hyperoxia, arthritis, heart attack, age pigments, dermatitis, cataractogenesis, retinal damage, hepatitis, liver injury, and periodontis, which are age-related. The body protects itself from the potential damages of reactive oxygen species. Its first line of defense is superoxide dismutases, glutathione peroxidases, and catalase. Scientists have indicated that antioxidant nutraceuticals supplied from daily diets quench the reactive oxygen species or are required as cofactors for antioxidant enzymes. Nutraceuticals play significant roles in the prevention of a number of age-related diseases and are essential for healthy aging. Epidemiological studies also reported the relevance of antioxidative nutraceuticals to health issues and the prevention of age-related diseases. Health-conscious consumers have made antioxidative nutraceuticals the leading trend in the food industry worldwide in recent years.