Developments In Free radicals, Disease and Aging   

Developments In Free Radicals, Disease and Aging

After forty years of research on free radicals we know that the "Free Radical Theory of Aging" has stood the test of time. This theory was first proposed by Prof. Denham Harman in 1954. The theory postulates that aging results from an accumulation of changes caused by a reaction in the body initiated by highly reactive molecules known as "free radicals". The changes induced by free radicals are believed to be a major cause of aging, disease development and sometimes can even be fatal. So what exactly are free radicals?

Free Radicals
The body's cells use oxygen to produce energy. In the process, oxygen sometimes reacts with the body's compound to produce highly unstable molecules known as free radicals. In addition to normal body processes, environmental factors such as radiation, pollution, tobacco smoke, and others can act as oxidants and cause the formation of free radicals. The trouble begins when free radicals in the body exceed its defenses against them, a condition known as oxidative stress.

Free radical damage commonly disrupts unsaturated fatty acids in cells' membranes, damaging the membranes ability to transport substances into and out of cells. Free radicals also cause damage to cells' proteins, altering their function, and to DNA, disrupting all cells that inherit the damaged DNA.

The body's defenses against free radicals
The body's two main systems of defense against damage from free radicals are its reserves of antioxidants and its enzyme systems that oppose oxidation. These defense system try to handle all the free radicals, but they are not 100 percent effective. If insufficient radical fighting agents are present in the body, if free radicals become excessive, or if the body's repair system cannot undo all the damage, health problems may develop. Damage that is not rectified accumulates as people age.

Antioxidant vitamins
The body maintains pools of the antioxidant vitamins: vitamin E, vitamin C, and the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene. These vitamins actively scavenge and quench free radicals. The sources of antioxidants are from our foods especially fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes which also contain phytonutrients which have antioxidant properties.

Factors that Increase Free Radical Formation

Body Factors

Environmental Factors

Energy metabolism

Air pollutions




High level of vitamin C

Acute illness

High levels of oxygen

Immune response

Radioactive emissions


Pesticides, insecticides


Tobacco smoke

Other decease

Trace minerals (iron, copper)

Other metabolic reactions

Ultraviolet light rays

Management of free radicals
Preventing free radical damage is through preventive medicine. It is advise the patients to have a free radical test done.
Currently there are two ways to measure free radicals i.e urine test and blood test.

Newer generation of anti-oxidants
There are promising newer generation of anti-oxidant such as alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, lycopene, pycnogenol, asthaxantin, selenium and the list go on. Some of the formulations are already available in the market. 

Happy reading,

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