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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Free Radicals & Oxidative Stress

Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals produced in our bodies that indiscriminately attack and destroy tissue causing aging, inflammation, allergies, disease, and disrupt organ and enzyme function.

Oxidative stress is a condition that arises when our cells cannot adequately destroy the free radicals we make as a normal byproduct of metabolism and cellular processes. We make more free radicals during periods of exercise, physical and emotional stress. Oxidative stress also results from exposure to toxic chemicals such as smoke, hydrocarbons, pesticides, and smog as well as prescription drugs and alcohol.

As a normal part of our metabolism, carbohydrates are converted to glucose and glucose is then converted into ATP. ATP is the universal energy molecule in our bodies. The byproduct of ATP synthesis is Superoxide. In glucose metabolism, oxygen becomes superoxide when an electron is accepted by oxygen to make the ATP. Superoxide is a highly toxic chemical and is normally converted in the mitochondria by the essential enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) into H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide), which is then rapidly transformed into water and oxygen by the enzyme catalase (CAT). Hydrogen peroxide is also highly toxic to tissue and forms the hydroxyl radical (.OH), one of the most reactive chemical species known to man. SOD is so essential, if the SOD encoding gene is damaged or mutated, ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease develops. As we age, the efficiency of both superoxide dismutase and catalyze enzyme systems decrease and then free radicals rise to dangerous levels.

Superoxide, the hydroxyl radical, and other reactive oxygen species are dangerous because they rob electrons indiscriminately from tissues near their site of formation. When free radicals create oxidative stress that is unchecked, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's Disease (PD), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Lupus, and Alzheimer's Disease may develop. It is therefore essential to protect our cells from the damaging effects of free radicals that mediate these diseases.

When free radicals react with blood lipids such as low-density lipoprotein, lipid peroxidation takes place and the lipids begin to stick together and to the walls of arteries forming plaques called atherosclerosis. Further tissue damage and inflammation by free radicals can then lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Antioxidants combat free radicals by giving up the electron they would otherwise rob from nearby tissues. Well known antioxidants include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Beta Carotene. The antioxidant Luteolin is two times stronger than Vitamin C and E also functions synergistically in the body to restore spent Vitamin C levels which in turn regenerate Vitamin E.

Maintaining a constant level of Luteolin in the body supports health by providing strong antioxidant protection from oxidative stress and the diseases caused thereby.

What is Oxidative Stress?

Oxidative stress is the destruction caused by free radical molecules. Free radicals, which are products of normal cell processes, wreak havoc during their hunt for a mate. The source of their devastating actions is the oxygen molecule's unpaired electron, which makes it unstable and electrically charged. It becomes stable by interacting with the nearest available molecule. Having no prejudices, it targets lipids, proteins and DNA. Scientists have discovered that the free radical's actions can damage molecules they react with and sometimes cause the cell's demise.

Oxidative stress has been linked to premature aging. It has also been cited as a performance-limiting factor in physical activity. Preventing or reducing oxidative stress may result in a healthier old age.

Antioxidants protect and repair cells and neutralize free radical damage to organs and cell membranes. Co-Q10, carnitine, melatonin, grape seed extract, selenium, green tea, bilberry, quercetin, as well as vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidants. Plant enzymes and whey promote the body's own manufacture of SOD and glutathione, the most important antioxidants in the body.