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The antioxidant defense system – Part 2

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Enzyme antioxidant defense system

Mineral antioxidant defense system

Enzymes are protein products produced in the body and their function is to catalyze chemical reactions.

These enzymes are usually produced in the body and because they are proteins, amino acids, which are building blocks of proteins, are essential in their production.

The main enzymes in this group of antioxidants are: Superoxide dismutase; Glutathione peroxidase; and Catalase.

The glutathione peroxidase is a group of enzymes of the peroxidase family.
The group is made up of about eight sub-groups of enzymes. The different sub-groups function in different parts of the body.

Researchers have extensively studied five of such groups and their findings are as follows:

The first sub-group, GP-1 is found in almost all the cells of the body.

GP-2 is found mainly in the cells of the intestines and in the extracellular fluid.

GP-3 is located mainly in the plasma.

GP-4 is also found in all the cells of the body.

GP-5 is an androgen-related protein in the epididymal cells of the testicles.

All these peroxidase enzymes catalyze the conversion of hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen. They are also involved in the conversion of lipid hydroperoxide to their corresponding alcohol.

In all of these reactions, they protect the tissues in the parts of the body where they are found against oxidative stress.
Trace minerals

Certain minerals required in very minute amounts take part in the enzymatic reactions involving the antioxidant enzyme defense system.

These trace minerals are zinc, copper and magnesium which are co-factors in the reactions that the superoxide dismutase enzyme catalyzes.
Selenium is a co-factor in the glutathione peroxidase enzyme reactions.

Iron is involved with catalase.

These co-factors are also limiting factors for the completion and rate of the chemical reactions.

In other words, in the absence of these co-factors, the chemical reactions catalyzed by the different enzymes will be hindered.

These are reactions that seek to either neutralize free radicals or transform them into less harmful or harmless elements or compounds.

If these minerals are deficient, there will be accumulation of free radicals and wide spread destruction of tissues of the body by oxidative stress.

Sources of trace minerals: Copper: Cocoa, whole grains, wheat bran, sunflower seeds and cashew nuts. Others are seafood and organ meat.

Zinc: Oysters, red meat, groundnuts, almonds, chickpeas, dairy products, such as milk and cheese.

Magnesium: Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, avocadoes, bananas, black eyed Peas, lima beans and soybeans.

Iron: Leafy green vegetables, soy foods, meat, chicken, eggs and beans.

Selenium: Tuna, shrimps, salmon, sardines, cod, chicken, turkey, asparagus, barley and brown rice. Other sources are flaxseed, spinach, cabbage, garlic and broccoli.

Summary of sources of vitamins and trace minerals that are found in the antioxidant defense system

Vitamin E

Plant sources of vitamin E include:

Vegetables: spinach, kale and collard greens.

Nuts: almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts and hazel nuts.

Seeds: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seed and sesame seed.

Fruits: avocado.

Seafood/fish: shellfish, shrimps, Cray fish, oysters, salmon and herring.

Oils: olive oil, wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil, canola and corn oil.

Vitamin C

Sources of Vitamin C:

Fruits: citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, pawpaw and mangoes.

Vegetables: Brussels sprouts, lettuce, spinach, potatoes and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Red and green peppers also contain Vitamin C.

Vitamin A

Sources of vitamin A include:

Vegetables: carrots, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, Mustard greens, Collard greens, Turnip greens, beet greens and broccoli.

Other types of vegetables that are high in vitamin A are Romaine lettuce, pumpkin, sweet red, yellow and green peppers and peas.

Fruits: mango, paw paw (papaya), cantaloupe melon, dried apricots and squash.
Fish/seafood: tuna, mackerel and oysters.

Oils: cod liver oil.

The three enzymes of the enzyme antioxidant defense system are produced in the body. Deficiencies of these enzymes are rare.
Sources of trace minerals

Copper: Cocoa, whole grains, wheat bran, sunflower seeds and cashew nuts. Others are seafood and organ meat.

Zinc: Oysters, red meat, groundnuts, almonds, chickpeas, dairy products, such as milk and cheese.

Magnesium: Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, avocadoes, bananas, black eyed Peas, lima beans and soybeans.

Iron: Leafy green vegetables, soy foods, meat, chicken, eggs and beans.

Selenium: Tuna, shrimps, salmon, sardines, cod, chicken, turkey, asparagus, barley and brown rice. Other sources are flaxseed, spinach, cabbage, garlic and broccoli.


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