What is an OPC?

T. M. Robertson

OPC stands for oligomeric procyanthocyanidin, an antioxidant supplement derived from various plant materials. The overall health benefits of antioxidants are well known, and these antioxidants are used by the body to help eliminate free radicals in the bloodstream. In addition to cleaning out the blood, OPCs also assist the body in repairing its tissues and organs. Research indicates this form of antioxidant helps prevent degenerative disorders and also improves circulatory conditions. The supplement can be purchased as pills, liquids, and powders at supermarkets and health food stores.

OPC supplements can be purchased in powder form.
OPC supplements can be purchased in powder form.

Extracts from pine bark, red wine, and grape seeds are the general makeup of OPCs. When cells in the body use oxygen, they end up producing free radicals as a by-product of their processes. Over time, these free radicals can build up and wreak havoc on the system by accelerating deterioration. If left unchecked, they can cause premature aging, circulatory disorders, and diabetes, among many other disorders. One of the main problems with free radicals is the way they deteriorate the blood vessels and arteries.

Red wine extract is one of the components of OPC.
Red wine extract is one of the components of OPC.

OPC can be purchased at most major supermarkets and natural health food stores. It comes in many different varieties, including pills that can be taken directly, powders that can be mixed into food or drink, and liquid extracts that can be taken directly or mixed with food or drink. The combination of the plant ingredients used will vary with different manufacturers, but in order to be classified as an OPC, it must contain at least one or more of the three primary ingredients of pine bark, red wine, and grape seeds. These supplements can also be classified as bioflavanoids and include Pycnogenol®. Of the 20,000-plus bioflavanoids, OPCs are considered the most potent of the antioxidants.

When OPCs are introduced in the body, the body naturally begins repairing itself. The first signs of improvement should come in the form of stronger hair, smoother nails, and an increase in overall energy. Over time, as free radicals diminish, arteries and other body tissues should be repaired, stress levels lowered, and risks for other long-term conditions and diseases reduced. In addition, when taken regularly, these supplements can help protect the collagen and elastin in the body. Experts attribute France's lower cardiovascular disease rate to regularly drinking red wine, one of the components of OPC.

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