A permanent alteration in the structure of DNA, the genetic material of a cell. The alterations in DNA can
be passed on from one generation to the next unless repaired. Cells possess elaborate mechanisms to
repair damaged DNA by environmental influences (mutagens) as well as within cells by wear and tear.
One theory of AGING proposes that, over time, an individual’s DNA repair system becomes less capable
of performing its task and DNA damage accumulates, leading ultimately to CANCER. Appropriate
nutrition can support DNA synthesis and repair, as well as minimizing the impact of agents that can
cause mutations. Key to countering the latter agents are ANTIOXIDANTS, compounds that either destroy
highly reactive chemicals called FREE RADICALS or prevent further oxidative damage. Antioxidant
nutrients include VITAMIN C, VITAMIN E, and BETA-CAROTENE (pro-vitamin A), as well as SELENIUM and
other TRACE MINERALS.