What is Oxidative Stress? A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Its Effects on the Body

Have you ever wondered why you age? I mean, I’m sure when you look in the mirror or compare pictures from years ago to now, you can see the changes in your appearance. Skin integrity changes like wrinkles and fine lines may have set in. Maybe some sunspots are noticeable from the years of basking in the sun. What we can’t see is the process of what we call “aging” happening inside us. That’s why we’ll be talking about oxidative stress and supporting cellular renewal in detail, including how your cells are affected by lifestyle, diet, genetics and your environment.

Defining Oxidative Stress - It's More Than Just a Few Wrinkles

Just because a person hits a certain age chronologically it doesn’t necessarily mean the aging occurs at the same rate for everyone. Changes occur in your cells daily. And according to Helmut Sies, who first defined oxidative stress, noted that it was an imbalance in the body between the number of oxidants and antioxidants. He believed that there were more oxidants than antioxidants, thereby leading to potential cell damage.1

Aging is deeper than just the surface or the lines that define aging on your skin, or what you see on the outside. Oxidative stress affects our cells, tissues and organs and really is a normal process in your body.2 So, what are oxidants, how do they contribute to oxidative stress and how do they affect our cell energy and cell health? Let’s read on to learn a little more on how this process works!

What are Free Radicals?

As mentioned above, these oxidants that promote oxidation in our cells are also referred to as free radicals. You may have heard this term before, but maybe were not aware of how they work in the body. Your body is an amazing machine that is continuously processing and carrying out many necessary functions daily. One of these many functions is digestion and when we digest and process our food, we naturally produce free radicals. They are the end product of metabolic and other natural processes.

Here's a little throwback to high school chemistry class. Free radicals are unstable and have an uneven number of electrons, so their goal is to always “take care of themselves” and they do this by seeking and then taking an electron from another molecule. When this loss of one or more electrons happens, oxidation occurs and may cause an onset of some negative reactions in the body.3 These free radicals bind to and destroy the makeup of cellular structure.4  Cellular oxidation may speed up the aging process and accelerate the rate at which we start to experience the signs of aging, not only on the surface but at the cellular level. But did you know there are other sources that also contribute to the development of free radicals?

Sources of Free Radicals
There are endogenous (internal) and exogenous (external) sources of free radicals. In addition to the normal metabolic processes we discussed, there are other factors like excessive exercise, mental stress and other conditions including immune cell activation to name a few, that are all sources of endogenous or internal expressions of free radical production.5 Outside of us, there are external triggers that may impact our cells’ health including exposure to normal environmental pollutants, heavy metals, certain medications, chemical solvents, alcohol consumption, smoking and exposure to the sun and even consumption of red meat, smoked meats and dietary fats and oils.5 When the body metabolizes these, free radicals are generated as by-products.5 But what if you could help your body defend against free radicals and oxidative stress?

Cellular Support: Antioxidants, Adaptogens and Polyphenols

Well, you can! Think of an antioxidant like a superhero fighting against the free radicals in your body. They are able to disarm them and work to keep the levels of oxidative stress at a minimum.6

Dietary antioxidants neutralize free radicals through several different mechanisms. They bind to the free electrons, “pairing up” with them and create a harmless cellular compound that the body can eliminate as waste. Antioxidants support the body's natural defense mechanisms against free radicals like the enzymes: superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase.7 Pretty amazing, huh?

Ensuring that your diet contains an abundance of antioxidant rich foods is essential. Antioxidants are found in many foods, and the greatest sources are found in most fruits like blueberries, pomegranates and blackberries to name a few. Also artichokes, cauliflower and kale top the list of robust antioxidant rich vegetables.8 It’s wise to seek a broad source of antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, E and B complex vitamins, like those found in Pure Encapsulations® AntiOxidant Formula which also supports the protection against free radical damage in every cell of the body.

One impressive nutrient that tops the list is Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), also known as ubiquinone. This nutrient is found naturally in our body and also in some foods like nuts, meats and fish. The only thing is, we may need more CoQ10  than what our diets can provide.9 So supplementation may be just the ticket to help fill that gap.

Pure Encapsulations® CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant, providing cellular protection from free radicals.10 It’s a core component in the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell), producing cellular energy known as adenosine triphosphate or ATP.11 CoQ10 also provides energy support to the cells of the body and tissues that require a lot of energy, such as the heart muscle.12 

If you are looking for the active antioxidant form of CoQ10 which is ubiquinol, consider Ubiquinol QH. This form of CoQ10 is important for older individuals and those individuals with greater levels of oxidative or physical stress. Also, Ubiquinol QH may be advantageous for those individuals who may not do that well with responding to the use of regular CoQ10 supplementation, which may be due to poor conversion of CoQ10 (ubiquinone) to ubiquinol in the body.13 Also research shows us that this form may be more readily absorbed than ubiquinone.14 Clinically studied for peak absorption of CoQ10, evidence suggests that ubiquinol is the preferred form of CoQ10 in individuals experiencing increased oxidative stress.

Ubiquinol VESIsorb offers enhanced absorption of ubiquinol. VESIsorb® is a patented, lipid-based delivery system that increases bioavailability. This enhanced ubiquinol absorption  supports energy metabolism and cardiovascular health.

Adaptogens are edible plant substances, also referred to as adaptogenic herbs and have been recognized for their balancing effects on physiology, encouraging cellular balance. Studies suggest adaptogens interact with the immune-neuro-endocrine system to help the body regulate its use of energy and maintain strong immune defenses.15

Adaptogens and antioxidants help to maintain cell health and protect healthy tissue. An advanced antioxidant and adaptogenic cellular health formula like PureCell contains antioxidant vitamins and minerals that promote healthy cell function and cell longevity. This dietary supplement also contains alpha lipoic acid, which offers intracellular as well as extracellular antioxidant protection.16  It’s important to note how vital the inclusion of N-acetyl-l-cysteine and selenium can be for cellular health. They replenish glutathione, scavenge free radicals and maintain healthy liver function.17,18‡

Another way that you can support your health and promote cellular energy is by consuming foods that are rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are organic compounds naturally found in various foods, mostly fruits and veggies. They are also part of the antioxidant family.

Foods such as pomegranates, black raspberries, raspberries, strawberries, walnuts and almonds are all foods rich in polyphenol, ellagitannin. These polyphenol components are not absorbed intact into the bloodstream but are broken down to ellagic acid in the gut and metabolized by the gut microflora to form urolithin A and B.19 Urolithin A is a metabolite of ellagitannin rich foods.  Research shows that the ability to produce urolithins declines with age and depends on a person’s gut flora. There is also a small percentage of individuals that cannot perform this conversion at all.20 It also indicates that urolithin A enhances the natural process of cellular renewal in which the body breaks down and recycles cellular components, as well as clearing and recycling of older and dysfunctional mitochondria. Mitochondrial function is critical to healthy aging and their renewal supports energy production and the overall health of cells. Therefore, RENAUL featuring Mitopure™ Urolithin A supports one’s muscle function, increases cellular energy and promotes healthy aging.

Ahhhh, Cellular Energy

We are all looking for a little bit of energy in our day to day! And after reading through this blog, you have learned that cell health supports cellular energy. So, if you are looking for a convenient once-a-day pack that promotes nutrient metabolism, while supporting healthy weight management and enhancing energy production, then our Energize Plus Pure Pack may be just the ticket!† Its unique profile of bioavailable vitamins, chelated minerals, fish oil and other ingredients like B vitamins, CoQ10 and magnesium all support cellular energy and health. In fact, these B vitamins, CoQ10 and magnesium act as cofactors in the body’s energy production pathway, while L-Carnitine carries fatty acids into the mitochondria for oxidation and conversion into energy. 21-24 What a great way to start your day! 

Now that you’ve learned a little more about the importance of your cellular health and gained a better understanding on what is happening in those little powerhouses of your cells, you are well on your way to navigating a healthier lifestyle. Armed with tips on how to reduce oxidative stress you’ll be ready to make better decisions when monitoring and reducing external and internal stressors. Get ready to embrace a new level of optimal wellness as you better support your cellular health! 

With great intentions, purely for you!


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