Free Radicals and Antioxidants

Free Radicals and Antioxidants

A free radical is a substance that contains one or more unpaired electrons, which is capable of independent existance. They are highly reactive molecules. They may be formed physiologically as in neutropils during intracellular killing or micro organisms or may be formed pathologically in an atherosclerotic plaque.
A stable molucle has no unpaired electron in its electron orbit. In afree radical however the presence of unpaired electron makes it energetically unstaable. It will quickly pair with an electron in the surrounding molecule to give it stability. This oxidises the surrounding molecule. This oxidation has two effects on the taaget molecule – it is chemically modified and it will also become reactive as it now has an unpaired electron. This will lead to oxidation of another surrounding molecule ans a chain reaction will set in generating and regenerationg free radicals, thus destroying large number of cell components.

Free radicals are very short lived. Most of the free radicals are formed in the body from oxygen.

  • Superoxide (O2) ion

  • Hydroxyl group (OH)

  • Nitric Oxide (NO)

  • Singlet oxygen (O)

  • Peroxyl radicals (ROO)

  • Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2)

Free radicals are being constantly formed in the body because of endogenous metabolic processes or due to environmental exposures – smoking, pollution.

Free radicals are generated in any of the three major cell types of the arterial wall : – endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells and macrophages. The free radicals and the LDL ( Low density lipids ) are involved in processes which finally lead to the formation of ‘Foam Cells‘ from which atherosclerotic plaques evolve.
Oxidised LDL also exerts other actions that add to the development of atherosclerosis. Free radicals also stimulate production of prostaglandins that cause vaso-constriction and also help in the aggregation of the platelets.

Although high levels of native LDL are associated with atherosclerosis, it is the oxidation of LDL by the free radicals that is crucial to its initiation and progression.


We know that the free radicals are formed in the body constantly. Surely the body has mechanisms to take care of the oxidative stress. All cells have defences against the free radicals and these defences are antioxidants.
There are three types of natural antioxidants :-
1. Antioxidant enzymes : superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathiaone peroxidase.
2. Preventive antioxidants : transferrin, lactoferrin, ceruloplasmin.
3. Scavenging antioxidants : vitamin C, E,A.

The antioxidants particitipate in reducing the oxidative stress by themselves getting oxidised, thereby protecting the target cells. The free radicals attempt to react with the target cells but in the presence of the antioxidants they react with the antioxidants.

Important Antioxidants
Vitamin A ( ß – carotene )
Vitamin E ( Alpha – tocopherol )
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid )

Alpha lipoic acid

Alpha lipoic acid is a sulfur-containing fatty acid that has recently become very popular as a dietary supplement. It is found inside each of the body’s cells where it helps generate the energy that keeps us alive and functioning.

Important characteristics of alpha lipoic acid :

  • Alpha lipoic acid functions as a powerful Antioxidant.

  • Unlike other antioxidants that work only in water or fatty tissues, alpha-lipoic acid is unusual in that it functions in both water and fat. This gives alpha lipoic acid an unusually broad spectrum of action.

  • Alpha lipoic acid may improve the effects of insulin and help lower blood sugar and prevent or slow nerve damage.

  • Alpha lipoic acid in high doses is more potent than vitamin E.

Natural sources of Antioxidant Vitamins and Minerals
Chocolate has antioxidants
Pomegranate Juice – has Antioxidants

This entry was posted in Diseases & Conditions and tagged by Manbir & Gurpreet. Bookmark the permalink.

About Manbir & Gurpreet

Gurpreet Kaur’s journey in this world .... Gurpreet Kaur was a Musician. She was a singer and a composer of music. Her interest was composing and singing Gurbani Shabads in Indian Classical style. She sang Shabads in All the Raags mentioned in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. She also taught Gurmat Sangeet at Gurmat Gian Missionary College, Jawadi, Ludhiana. Elder child to Pushpinder Kaur and Dr. Brig. Harminder Singh, was born in Amritsar on 13th Jan 1962. She attended various convent schools as a child because her father would get frequent Army postings as a dental surgeon. She graduated with Music Honors from Govt. College for Women, Chandigarh. Music was her hobby and she composed and sang Raag based Gurbani Shabads. Doing Kirtan was part of growing up nurtured by her parents. She learned music from her father Dr. Brigadier Harminder Singh who was a dental surgeon in Indian Army and a very good singer himself. Gurpreet’s Bhua (father’s sister), Ajit Kaur retied as a Head of Department of Music from Govt. College for Women Ludhiana, and was a renounced Punjabi singer of her time. Gurpreet Kaur also learned nuances of Indian Classical Music from Pandita Sharma. She was a mother of three children, and a grandmother. Her daughter Keerat Kaur is a Computer Engineer. Her two sons Gurkeerat Singh and Jaskeerat Singh are doctors in USA. Her daughter Keerat Kaur too was part of her group ~ Gurmat Gian Group. Gurpreet Kaur left this world at the age of 54yrs on 12th Sept 2016 in Baltimore USA. She had recorded around 25 cds of Gurbani Keertan. 'Raag Ratan' Album (6 CDs) is a Compilation of Shabads in All the 31 Sudh Raags of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. 'Gauri Sagar' Album (3 CDs) is a Compilation of All forms of Raag Gauri in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. 'Nanak Ki Malhaar' ~ ((3 CDs) is an album of Raag Malhar Shabads in various forms of Malhar. 'Gur Parsaad Basant Bana' ~ (3 CDs) is an album of Shabads in Raag Basant sung in various forms of Raag Basant. Har Ki Vadeyai Sarni Aayea Sewa Priya Kee Preet Piyaree Mohan Ghar Aavho Karo Jodariya Mo Kao Taar Le Raama Taar Le Tere Kavan Kavan Gun Keh Keh Gawan Mera Baid Guru Govinda Saajanrraa Mera Saajanrraa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s