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Free Radicals

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Free Radicals  

Information, definition, reviews, research reports and explanation of oxidants

Summary: Free radicals are atoms with an imbalancance of electrons (odd pair) which attack and destroy cells. Antioxidants are believed to be able to prevent the formation of free radicals. See also an explantion of oxidants

Health Check Systems: See this site for a great explanation of how atoms and electrons work and how free radicals are formed. "Normally, bonds don’t split in a way that leaves a molecule with an odd, unpaired electron. But when weak bonds split, free radicals are formed. Free radicals are very unstable and react quickly with other compounds, trying to capture the needed electron to gain stability. Generally, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, "stealing" its electron. When the "attacked" molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction. Once the process is started, it can cascade, finally resulting in the disruption of a living cell. Some free radicals arise normally during metabolism. Sometimes the body’s immune system’s cells purposefully create them to neutralize viruses and bacteria. However, environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides can also spawn free radicals. Normally, the body can handle free radicals, but if antioxidants are unavailable, or if the free-radical production becomes excessive, damage can occur. Of particular importance is that free radical damage accumulates with age...How Antioxidants May Prevent Against Free Radical Damage The vitamins C and E, are thought to protect the body against the destructive effects of free radicals. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons, ending the electron-"stealing" reaction. The antioxidant nutrients themselves don’t become free radicals by donating an electron because they are stable in either form They act as scavengers, helping to prevent cell and tissue damage that could lead to cellular damage and disease. Vitamin E – The most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant in the body. One of the most efficient chain-breaking antioxidants available. Primary defender against oxidation. Primary defender against lipid peroxidation (creation of unstable molecules containing more oxygen than is usual). Vitamin C – The most abundant water-soluble antioxidant in the body. Acts primarily in cellular fluid. Of particular note in combating free-radical formation caused by pollution and cigarette smoke. Also helps return vitamin E to its active form. " (1)

"Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like dominoes. Their chief danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs. To prevent free radical damage the body has a defense system of antioxidants." (2)

Free-radical theory From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "The free-radical theory of aging is that organisms age because cells accumulate free radical damage with the passage of time. In general, a "free radical" is any molecule that has a single unpaired electron in an outer shell. While a few free radicals such as melanin are stable over eons, most biologically-relevant free radicals are fairly reactive. For most biological structures free radical damage is closely associated with oxidation damage. Oxidation and reduction are redox chemical reactions." (3)

Grey Labratory: "This is an area in which research has grown enormously in recent years, free-radical research now possibly rivalling radiation research in terms of resources devoted world-wide. Chemical bonds are usually formed from the sharing of two electrons, whereas a free radical is a species with one unpaired electron. This makes many, but not all, free radicals chemically quite reactive, as the species seek to find another electron to pair up with. However, the definition includes common chemicals such as oxygen. Not surprisingly, therefore, oxygen is a common reactant in free-radical processes, having a propensity to take part in single-electron transfer or free-radical addition reactions in which electrons become paired. Another common gaseous chemical which is a free radical is nitric oxide. It is now recognized to play a critical role in vascular physiology, and with its molecular formula of NO, this has led to as many puns in reviews of its role as the diverse roles themselves. (4)

Wikipida: Nitric oxide or Nitrogen monoxide is a chemical compound with chemical formula NO. This gas is an important signaling molecule in the body of mammals including humans and is an extremely important intermediate in the chemical industry. It is also a toxic air pollutant produced by automobile engines and power plants. Nitric oxide (NO) should not be confused with nitrous oxide (N2O), a general anaesthetic, or with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which is another poisonous air pollutant. The nitric oxide molecule is a free radical, which is relevant to understanding its high reactivity. It reacts with the ozone in air to form nitrogen dioxide, signalled by the appearance of the reddish-brown color." (5)

Healing Daily.com: "In a nutshell, this is how you could summarize his theory: The nucleus of an atom is surrounded by a cloud of electrons. These electrons surround the nucleus in pairs, but occasionally an atom loses an electron, leaving the atom with an "unpaired" electron. The atom is then called a "free radical", and it is very reactive. When cells in the body encounter a free radical, the reactive radical may cause destruction in the cell. According to Dr. Harmon's free radical theory of aging, cells continuously produce free radicals, and constant free radical damage eventually kills the cell. When free radicals kill or damage enough cells in an organism, the organism ages." (6)

 

(1) http://www.healthchecksystems.com/antioxid.htm
(2) http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/antiox.html
(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free-radical_theory
(4) http://www.graylab.ac.uk/lab/reviews/pwrev.html
(5) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitric_oxide
(6) http://www.healingdaily.com/conditions/free-radicals.htm
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