Despite Being Free, Free Radicals Are Bad
(Antioxidants Listed Below)
MANY PEOPLE have heard of “antioxidants” and “free radicals”, but don’t know much about them except that antioxidants are good and free radicals — despite being “free” — are bad.
Let’s add a bit to the knowledge base.
“Free Radicals” are formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules and cause their atoms to develop an odd (unpaired) number of electrons by taking one away. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction… a domino effect! Their chief danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane.
(Read this free radical theory of aging.)
“Antioxidants” are molecules that can interact with free radicals by supplying one of their own electrons to the unpaired, free radical molecule, thus ending the electron-stealing reaction. Because they are stable with paired or unpaired electrons, antioxidants don’t turn into free radicals themselves after donating an electron to a free radical.
People concerned about maximizing their longevity are interested in an antioxidant’s capability to help prevent cellular damage — the common pathway for cancer, aging, and a variety of diseases.
People concerned about maximizing their athleticism are interested in an antioxidant’s capability to enhance performance and recover from exercise. Given that endurance exercise can increase oxygen utilization from 10 to 20 times over the norm — and thereby produce more free radical damage to muscle and other tissues — athletes need to investigate the value of augmenting their antioxidant intake.
As someone interested in both athleticism and life extension, the bottom line for me is to get the maximum antioxidant capabilities from supplements possible (well, let’s say “reasonable” amount), as well as select foods that offer this protection as well.
And there are many to consider. Though I dabble with others, these are my steadfast babies:
Natural Resveratrol This is fast becoming a wonder supplement. Among a long list of benefits that include helping with diabetes and cardiovascular disease, Resveratrol helps cells make protective enzymes to prevent the leakage of electrons and the production of toxic “free radicals”. Reservatrol has received a lot of favorable press of late. You should investigate if this remarkable supplement might be good for you.
(Watch the CBS 60 Minutes video about Resveratrol.)
Acetyl L-Carnitine Cellular energy production itself produces free radicals that can harm cell structures, including the mitochondria, if the body’s natural antioxidant capacity is low. Acetyl L-Carnitine and Lipoic Acid are both naturally present antioxidants in the body that have been shown to support mitochondrial function and help reduce free radical damage.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is a potent antioxidant that promotes the body’s production of energy. It supports the conversion of carbohydrates, fat, and protein from food into fuel, stimulating production of ATP (the body’s energy source). As an antioxidant, ALA is known to help neutralize the effects of free radicals on the body by enhancing the antioxidant functions of vitamin C, Vitamin E, and glutathione.
In addition to Resveratrol, Acetyl L-Carnitine in combination with Alpha Lipoic Acid may be one of the most effective antioxidants that help reduce the effect of free radical damage that can harm cell structures, and may be helpful in turning back the clock. For more information about this powerful duo, check out these articles about longevity and rejuvenation: UC Berkeley Study and Natural News.
Just as with the descriptive statements made at the various company sites that manufacture and/or sell the supplement products presented in this blog, none, or nearly none, of the potential benefits stated here have been evaluated by the FDA. Likewise none, or nearly none, of the products here can be represented to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Before engaging a supplement program, it always makes sense to get the advice of your health practitioner.
- Watch: Aging… Let’s Slow it Down! (Barbara Walters)
- Nine Reasons to Drink Green Tea (and limit coffee)
- Amino Acids for Muscle and Energy
Published on August 14, 2009