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Free Radicals 101

Free Radicals 101

What are free radicals?

A free radical is any chemical compound that contains one, as opposed to two electrons. All molecules, and therefore all living things, are held together by a “glue” of electrons. Molecules are happy, or stable, when they have the right number of electrons. It is when molecules do not have the correct number of electrons that we encounter a problem. These reactive molecules are the chemical compounds we call free radicals.


What do free radicals do?

This one radical electron will then search desperately through the body to look for its pair, and will react with almost anything in order to get it. This is why free radicals are so dangerous: they disrupt normal chemical processes in the body due to their extreme reactivity and can cause propagating side reactions which can be toxic to the cells.


How are free radicals formed?

Free radicals are produced naturally by our body’s metabolism, as the movement of electrons is necessary for bodily functions to occur.  Sometimes our body intends for free radical production and can get rid of them as they form, while other times it does not and the free radicals can escape to other parts of the cell and body.  Free radicals most commonly associated with cell damage are radical oxygen species, these form as a natural byproduct of oxygen metabolism. There are other types of non-oxygen based free radicals that can be found in our body in lesser amounts.  These types of free radicals can come from chemical processes due to overexposure to sunlight, tobacco smoke, inhalation of inorganic molecules (automotive exhaust, asbestos, etc), and more.


What affect do free radicals have on our bodies?

Many diseases, adverse health effects, and signs of aging have been shown to stem from oxidative stress on the body (in other words, an abundance of free radicals). Excessive amounts of free radicals in the body have been associated with health issues including, inflammation, high blood pressure, varicose veins, and arthritis.  Oxidative stress has been involved in many diseases, like Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, diabetes, and even many cancers.  The mechanisms among which free radicals propagate these diseases and health issues are very diverse and complex, but the underlying principle is the same: free radicals cause unwanted reactions in cells which have toxic side effects that accumulate and lead to disease.


How can I reduce oxidative stress and free radical damage?

One step you can take to help reduce oxidative stress and free radical damage in your body is to increase your intake of antioxidants.  In next week’s newsletter we will discuss the role antioxidants play in diminishing free radicals.  To learn more about OPCXtra, the Super Antioxidant formula that I trust to manage oxidative stress and free radicals in my body, please visit:


I hope you enjoyed this week’s newsletter on free radicals, and please be on the lookout next Sunday, March 1st, for the follow up to this piece covering the role Antioxidants play in removing free radicals.  If you enjoyed this piece and would like to receive email updates for future newsletters you can join our mailing list here.


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