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Free radicals and antioxidants


What are free radicals?

As I said in the last article, I will explain free radicals in this article. First of all, you may know that our bodies are made from small molecules such as carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen calcium etc.. These molecules have atoms at the center. And these atoms contain a nucleus with a certain number of protons. Also there are electrons which are located around an atom like fogginess. But you might understand more easily if you image that electrons are located around an atom in a circle.

When the number of protons and electrons are equal, the molecule can be stable chemically. For example, hydrogen molecules have only one proton. That’s why if a hydrogen molecule has one electron, the hydrogen molecule can be stable. I’ll give you one more example to explain. Oxygen molecules have 8 protons. So if an oxygen molecule has 8 protons, the oxygen molecule can be stable chemically.

I said that a molecule with the certain number of electrons could be stable chemically. Actually, there are not many molecules which are stable in our bodies. They always give an electron and take an electron. Giving an electron is called reduction reaction and taking an electron is called oxidation reaction.

Free radicals are molecules which don’t have enough number of electrons. They tend to rub an electron from other molecules (usually from the neighbor molecule). And molecules which are rubbed an electron become unstable, so they tend to try to rub an electron from other molecules. This reaction is caused more and more. This is the mechanism of free radical products. The worst affection of free radicals is oxidative damages to DNA.

But as I mentioned in the last article, our bodies have adapted to dealing with free radicals since our ancestors started producing aerobic energy. The reason why our bodies can’t deal with free radicals 100% is below physic and psychic stresses:

  • Poor food and drinking water choices;

  • Air pollution;

  • Ultraviolet light

  • Use of unhealthy cleaning supplies, paint and cosmetics;

  • Pesticides;

  • Heavy metals;

  • Psychic stress (pressure, anger, anxiousness, etc.)

  • Physical stress (hard training, too much working, too less sleaping, etc.)

  • Radiation;

  • Drugs;

  • Tobacco;

  • Alcohol;

  • Medications.

In terms of physical stress, endurance athletes have to make more free radicals than normal people because endurance athletes need to produce a lot of aerobic energy. Nevertheless there are some things that endurance athletes can do to reduce oxidative stress.


Antioxidants neutralize not only free radicals that you already have, but also prevent damages which come from potential free radicals you may get from now on. Typical antioxidants are below :

1. Antioxidative vitamins and co-factors: A, C, E, Co-enzyme Q10.

2. Antioxidative phytochemicals:

o Carotenoids: found in foods such as carrots, tomatoes, collard greens, mangos, paprika and spinach.

o Polyphenolic flavonoids: found in foods such as berries, green tea, apples, chocolate and red grapes.

3. Other antioxidative molecules: bilirubin, uric acid, an electron (hydrogen).

And some minerals such as manganese, copper, selenium, zinc optimize antioxidative enzyme which our bodies already have such as superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathinoine perioxidase. Especially selenium plays a key roll. There is a report that if the soil contains a lot of selenium, people who live there unlikely get cancers. Foods which contain high amount of selenium are fishes, chickens, garlic, whole-grain products and Brazil nuts.

ORAC (Oxidative Radical Absorbance Capacity)

ORAC is the index which shows how well a food can clean up free radicals. High ORAC foods are below (source : ‘’Warum Papaya kühlt und Zucker heiß macht‘‘ written by Prof. Dr. Michaela Döll) :

ORAC per 100g


goji berry from 10000 to 30000

acai berry more than 5500

pomegranate more than 5000

raisin 2800

blue berry 2400

straw berry 1550

orange 750

cherry 680


cabbage 1700

garlic 1600

broccoli 900

red beets 900

onion 450

corn 400

Other than what I write above, dark chocolate, dark cocoa, plums, western pears, nuts, apples and Korean thistles contain high antioxidants.

Antioxidants are good for not only prevention for injuries or deceases but also antiaging. No matter what you do, you may think over to take more antioxidants!


‘‘Warum Papaya kühlt und Zucker heiß macht‘‘ written by Michaela Döll

‘‘ミトコンドリア革命‘‘ writen by 宇野克明







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