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has been estimated that for every 10 oxygen molecules that enter a cell, 1/100 damages protein and 1/200 damages DNA or RNA. We know lipids can be damaged as well via lipid peroxidation.1 Some of this damage to DNA, RNA, protein, and lipid is repaired and some is not.

When the production of oxidants exceeds the amounts of antioxidants, oxidative stress occurs

and the damage previously mentioned might occur. If this condition is allowed to continue over a period of time without repair, diseases that involve inflammation, e.g., diabetes, cancer, neurodegeneration, arthritis, and even viral disease can occur.

What is oxidative stress and how do we prevent it from happening or, more to the point, how do we prevent the damage that is not repaired? First we must understand the two opposing forces that control the yin and yang of the situation. What constitutes an oxidant and an antioxidant (reductant)? An oxidant is any substance that loses an electron or hydrogen or gains an oxygen. Therefore, an antioxidant is a substance that gains an electron or hydrogen or loses oxygen. If the oxidant and antioxidant are balanced, we produce oxidative homeostasis. If the antioxidant is exessive, with enough reserve, your cells and organs are likely protected from oxidative damage.

* Reproduced in part from Van Dyke, K., J. Biolumin. Chemilumin., 13, 339, 1998; and Luminescence, 15, 37, 2000. With permission of John Wiley & Sons.

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