Everywhere you look you see something about free radicals. Depending on what you've read, seen, or heard about them, it would seem they are dangerous entities that form out of nowhere and steal your life force. This is not a science fiction plot and free radicals may be responsible for cell damage that is occurring in your body right now. Free Radical Theory on Aging (FRTA) is based on cell damage created by free radicals which may cause oxidative damage leading to signs of aging.
For any atom or molecule to be stable, it's outer electron layer must have paired electron sets. Should either atom or molecule have a single unpaired electron in the outer electron layer, this is considered a free radical.
For example, if an outer layer of an atom requires 8 electrons to be stable and there are only 7 or 1 electron in that outer layer, it is seeking another electron or looking to lose 1 to become stable. Either way, by changing the shape of the atom, the essential function of that atom changes as well.
The danger of a free radical lies within it's capability to cause oxidative damage. Whenever this give and take process occurs within the cells in the body, it may cause oxidative stress, which has been linked to several diseases such as heart failure, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.
FRTA supports when cells undergo damage from free radicals, it causes the external effects of aging: wrinkles, loose skin, weight gain, hair loss, all the signs of aging may stem from cell aging. However, studies have shown that the body creates natural antioxidants to limit the oxidative damage by causing free radicals to undergo passivation.
Many general life processes release free radicals and not all of them are bad. According to Consumerhealth.org, our bodies release free radicals to fight bacteria, fungus, and infection. Some other causes of free radical excess are cholesterol, fat, smoking, alcohol, food preservatives and pesticides, environmental pollution, sunlight, chemotherapy and radiation, metabolism, and intense activity.
It is inconclusive whether or not the addition of antioxidants to a diet may help with the damage that free radicals may cause. Many people will add fruits such as pomegranates, raspberries, red grapes, blueberries, blackberries, lychee, and dark cherries to their diets for their natural antioxidant values. Antioxidants are also available now in extract form at many supplement retailers. Examples of these additional antioxidants are resveratrol, green tea, grape seed extract, CoQ10, astaxanthin, and lycopene.
Antioxidants may be helpful in the battle against free radicals but be sure to do your research before spending too much money on supplements. Examine your diet and lifestyle first - making healthy decisions now should be your first line of defense against aging.