If you’re like me, you might feel like you’ve been dropped in a vat of alphabet soup when you read about anti-aging or antioxidants. I’m no microbiologist or even a whiz at word games, but I’ll give a shot at trying to ‘splain some of the acronyms involved in the articles about which I post.
Since many of the articles refer to free radicals along with the acronyms, I’ll start off by trying to explain free radicals. High school chemistry was a very long time ago, but I seem to remember that there are some molecules that are short an electron – have an odd number, or whose valance (outer shell) is not full. These molecules seek to fill that outer shell by either sharing an electron or by “stealing” some from another molecule. Many metals are such molecules, as is oxygen. That’s why oxygen is expressed as O2. Two oxygen atoms bond together by sharing electrons to fill their outer electron shell. We all know that oxygen will react with metal to create rust. That is oxygen combining with the metals to fill the outer shell.
Here’s an article that explains chemical bonding far better than I can.
In our bodies, we need oxygen to fuel cellular energy production, but at the same time, oxygen and other reactive molecules can interact with with cell membranes or even DNA. Our cells can fail to function properly or die prematurely due to such damage. Cholesterol can also oxidize, which contributes to the buildup of plaque in our circulatory system. Luckily, our bodies have a defense against this type of damage. We have some enzymes that scavenge the molecules that need extra electrons & “loan” them some. However, many other free radical fighters are contained in food. These “antioxidants” can bond with the free radicals and prevent or minimize cellular damage.
Besides normal metabolism, there are many environmental factors that increase the amount of free radicals in our bodies, such as:
- sun overexposure
My next post will dive into some acronyms.
Powered by ScribeFire.