Factor Affecting Free Radical Production

Image Caption : A different type of stress - oxidative stress - is a natural process that occurs in your body. As a part of the metabolic process free radicals - atoms or a group of atoms with unpaired electrons - can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Free radicals are also created when your body is exposed to pollution radiation or cigarette smoke. Normally your body uses antioxidants to "mop" up and eliminate free radicals before they can react with and damage cells and DNA. Free radical damage has been linked to arterial aging and cancer. Vitamin C and vitamin E are excellent antioxidants and can be obtained from a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables. A well-balanced diet should supply enough of these and other necessary vitamins - A B D - and minerals - zinc iron potassium selenium. However taking a daily multivitamin supplement is recommended as a safety net and to guard against long-term damage. Supplements should never be considered a replacement source of vitamins and minerals which tend to work best when absorbed from food. In addition to a multivitamin research suggests that a daily "baby" dose of aspirin (half of an adult pill or 162 milligrams) may have a beneficial effect for those at risk of cardiovascular disease. The active ingredient in aspirin - acetylsalicylic acid - has long been used as a medication to relieve pain and inflammation. Aspirin also slows down clot production which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Consult a healthcare professional as to the recommended daily dose of vitamins and supplements that work best for you. Aspirin can cause stomach upset and too much of any one vitamin can be harmful to your health. Some vitamins can interfere with prescribed medication especially statins.

Free Radicals

Highly reactive molecules with an unsatisfied electron valence pair. Free radicals are produced in both normal and pathological processes. They are proven or suspected agents of tissue damage in a wide variety of circumstances including radiation, damage from environment chemicals, and aging. Natural and pharmacological prevention of free radical damage is being actively investigated.

National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine

What are free radicals?

Free radicals are highly reactive atoms formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. They try to "steal" electrons from atoms in body tissues, and in doing so can damage cellular components such as cell membranes and DNA, and lead to heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.

Free radicals are formed in the normal processes of energy metabolism, but they are also created by environmental pollution, cigarette smoke, and toxic chemicals. To prevent free radical damage, your body has several enzyme systems that scavenge free radicals. Problems start when the body is inundated by so many free radicals that it can't cope with them all. Micronutrients, such as vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C, in addition to the thousands of phytochemicals now being discovered in many fruits and vegetables, can aid the body in eliminating damaging free radicals.

The Free Radical Theory

The free radical theory on aging was originally proposed in the 1950s, and still remains under debate. Generally speaking, the free radical theory of aging suggests that accumulated cellular damage from oxidative stress contributes to the physiological and anatomical effects of aging. There are two significantly different versions of this theory: one states that the aging process itself is a result of oxidative damage, and the other states that oxidative damage causes age-related disease and disorders. The latter version of the theory is more widely accepted than the former. However, many lines of evidence suggest that oxidative damage does contribute to the aging process. Research has shown that reducing oxidative damage can result in a longer lifespan in certain organisms such as yeast, worms, and fruit flies. Conversely, increasing oxidative damage can shorten the lifespan of mice and worms. Interestingly, a manipulation called calorie-restriction (moderately restricting the caloric intake) has been shown to increase life span in some laboratory animals. It is believed that this increase is at least in part due to a reduction of oxidative stress. However, a long-term study of primates with calorie-restriction showed no increase in their lifespan. A great deal of additional research will be required to better understand the link between reactive oxygen species and aging.

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