Generated by the body as inevitable byproducts of normal metabolic processes, free radicals, or reactive oxygen species (ROS), must be balanced by antioxidants for proper physiological function. A certain amount of free radicals are required and produced by the immune system to help destroy invading pathogens and viruses. Some free radicals are necessary enzyme precursors, others aid in the production of vital hormones. The body’s ability to use oxygen and metabolize food into chemical energy depends on a chain reaction of free radicals. During this oxidation process, oxygen-charged molecules containing unpaired electrons are released. Electrons are negatively charged particles that normally occur in pairs. Free radicals are unstable atoms with unpaired elections making them highly reactive with other molecules.
There are many types of free radicals, as well as molecules that stabilize them. All free radicals share a voracious appetite for electrons. In order to stabilize itself, a free radical very quickly pulls an electron from the nearest stable molecule. This electron theft can radically alter the structure or function of the newly destabilized molecule, disrupting and damaging cell membranes and altering what may enter and exit the cell itself. Although under constant attack, the body is not defenseless against free radicals. By producing antioxidant substances, such as glutathione and ubiquinol, as well as extracting antioxidants from the diet, the body strives for homeostasis, a balance in all things.
Antioxidants are able stable enough to donate an electron to a free radical without becoming destabilized. Oxidative damage occurs when free radical production overwhelms the body’s antioxidant defenses. When the antioxidant supply is insufficient, excessive free radical formation can not only result in irreversible cellular, organ and tissue damage, but can harm nucleic acids, proteins and lipids as well. While free radicals are crucial to energy production and immune function, an excess of free radicals and low levels of antioxidants is associated with increased risk of developing many pathological conditions such as diabetes type 2, vision loss, atherosclerosis and cancer, as well as respiratory, neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, and autoimmune diseases. Free radicals are also linked to cellular aging, as the cellular damage inflicted may accumulate with age and hasten disease progression.
Many different factors can lead to an excess of health damaging free radicals. Radiation exposure, environmental pollutants, pesticides, tobacco smoke, heavy metals, alcohol, poor diet, pharmaceuticals, automobile exhaust and chemical solvents can all contribute to an excess of free radicals. Based on studies, some nutritional antioxidants will retard the aging process, suggesting that free radicals have a significant influence on aging, and that cellular damage can be controlled with adequate antioxidant defense. Further, optimal intake of antioxidants may positively influence life span by safeguarding genetic data during cell division.
Intense aerobic activity can induce oxidative stress.
Burning fuel in high intensity cardio exercise causes chemical reactions that form free radicals at a faster rate. However, those who exercise frequently appear to reduce oxidative stress initially brought on by physical activity, as unlike sporadic exercise regular exercise also enhances antioxidant defenses.
A healthy and varied plant-based diet helps combat free radical damage.
Antioxidant nutrients are found in a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Nutrients that have demonstrated the ability to help prevent or reduce the damage caused by oxidative stress include vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, alpha-lipoic acid, selenium and more. Principle micronutrient vitamins C, E and beta-carotene must be supplied through diet or supplementation. Antioxidants work synergistically to neutralize free radicals, as each has its own unique chemical behaviors and biological properties. A diet high in antioxidant-rich foods won’t stop the aging process, but will support healthier, more graceful aging throughout life.
Reduce stress to limit oxidative injury.
Along with inflammation, stress induced oxidative stress is considered to be a causative factor in disease development and cellular aging. The chemicals cortisone and catecholamines created by mental stress can produce free radicals. As the body ages, the ability to fight the effects of free radicals diminishes, resulting in more cellular damage and leading to degenerative processes associated with age-related health decline. Along with conscious stress reduction, antioxidant supplements can help to combat the negative effects of stress on the body.
Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality supplements to support cellular and overall health:
AntiOxidant Formula by Pure Encapsulations®: This broad spectrum antioxidant formula provides essential vitamins and minerals, as well as a proprietary carotenoid blend, in support of the body’s natural defense mechanisms. Gluten free, Non-GMO hypoallergenic formulation.
Ultra Anti-Oxidant by Douglas Laboratories®: This potent formula provides specific nutrients that effectively participate in the body’s defense systems that work to reduce damage to cells, organs and tissues. Ingredients include antioxidant vitamins, minerals, NAC, glutathione and a broad range of active nutritional free radical fighters. Free of wheat gluten, soy, dairy, sugar, yeast and artificial coloring, flavoring and preservatives.
Ultimate Antiox Full Spectrum by Designs for Health®: This unique formula provides a blend of powerful herbs and spices, as well as specific antioxidant compounds, in support of the function and integrity of body structures, including cell membranes, proteins and enzymes. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.
Anti-Oxidant Complex by Professional Complementary Health Formulas: This specialty complex is formulated to provide a full spectrum of synergistic co-factors and essential nutrients that work to protect cells and tissues from free radical damage. Ingredients include vitamins, minerals, CoQ10, turmeric, glutathione and more. Gluten and soy free, vegetarian formulation.
Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/
Free Radicals: Properties, Sources, Targets, and Their Implication in Various Diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4310837/
Stress, Oxidative Injury and Disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4310835/
Oxidative stress: role of physical exercise and antioxidant nutraceuticals in adulthood and aging. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5908316/