Antioxidants in oxidative stress identified
The diseases that are associated with an excess of free radicals are all very serious but the prevention of these diseases is as easy as taking 5 to 8 different antioxidants on a regular basis.
Consider for a minute the sliced apple I spoke about earlier. If you squeeze lemon juice on the surface of the Apple before it turns brown, vitamin C and the bioflavonoid antioxidants in the lemon will neutralize the free radicals in the apple. The process of oxidation will become slowed down.
Antioxidants are compounds that are capable of donating electrons to the free radicals so that they become balanced, no longer aggressive and no longer destructive. Antioxidants are sourced either from living (and phytonutrients plant) foods, antioxidant supplements and those produced in the human body.
Three antioxidants are produced in the human body; glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase.
A product of the liver, glutathione is found in all the cells and tissues of the body. It is also abundant in the body fluids as they are transferred to different parts of the body. It is a powerful neutralizer of free radicals and it also acts as a detoxifier. It is a component of the enzyme antioxidant defense system and can be synthesized from the following amino acids: glutamic acid, glycine and cysteine. It is important to note that vitamin C, N-acetyl-cysteine and the herb milk thistle increase the rate of synthesis of glutathione. These are powerful supplements to give when there is a deficiency of glutathione.
Superoxide dismutase (SOD)
SOD as an antioxidant neutralizes the free radical superoxide, converting it to hydrogen peroxide, which is also a free radical. SOD, together with another antioxidant, catalase, break down the hydrogen peroxide to water. Lipid peroxides and hydrogen peroxide can be neutralized by SOD and glutathione.
SOD is manufactured from manganese, copper and zinc and these minerals would be good supplements to give to a patient with any of the chronic degenerative diseases. Copper and manganese can be sourced from nuts and whole grains while zinc comes from oatmeal, nuts, milk, legumes, oysters and egg yoke. Regular consumption of these, especially by the elderly can guarantee sufficient SOD in the body. Production of these enzymes in the body declines with age.
This is a powerful antioxidant that works synergistically with SOD to neutralize hydrogen peroxide. Particularly in the skin, it converts hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygenates the epidermis making it look smoother and younger. Iron is a co-factor to catalase in its metabolic reactions.
Professor Lester Packer, an authority in molecular and cell biology in the University of California in the US identified five key antioxidants in protecting against chronic degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cataract, macular degeneration, ageing etc. He concluded that antioxidants work better together as a group in a balanced combination.
According to him, antioxidants work synergistically in protecting the body against diseases. The cell is the most frequently attacked structure in the body and there are antioxidants in the different parts of the cell offering protection.
Vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant functions best inside the cell and vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant protects the cells’ fatty outer membrane. Alpha-lipoic acid works both in the water-filled interior and the outer fatty membrane. Alpha-lipoic acid is powerful antioxidant synthesized plants and animals, which help to protect the liver, and detoxifies the body against the effect of radiation and medication. Other functions of alpha-lipoic acid include recycling vitamin E, vitamin C, glutathione and CoQ10. It is capable of extending the life span of all these antioxidants. Alpha-lipoic acid improves insulin metabolism and has been used for the treatment of neuropathy in type 2 diabetes.
CoenzymeQ10, an antioxidant found in every cell of the body, is involved in energy generation all over the body. Production of CoQ10 declines with age and this makes CoQ10 along with the others, antioxidants that have to be taken regularly as supplements. High levels of CoQ10 are usually found in the brain. This is another reason why it must be supplemented so as to increase the energy and vitality of the brain in cases like Alzheimer’s disease.
I have written about glutathione and the other two members of the enzyme antioxidant defense system. I have also shown sources of nutrients that can support the production of these enzymes. These nutrients and supplements of the other antioxidants should be regular features of our daily diet to help to prevent these degenerative diseases and premature ageing.