ANTIOXIDANTS INACTIVATE FREE RADICALS THAT DAMAGE AND AGE YOUR SKIN
FREE RADICALS DAMAGE PROTEINS, LIPIDS, CELL MEMBRANES AND DNA AND ALSO TRIGGER AN INFLAMMATORY RESPONSE. THIS INFLAMMATION WILL DAMAGE AND AGE YOUR SKIN. REGARDLESS OF WHAT “MIRACLE” ANTI-AGING INGREDIENT IS IN A SKIN CARE PRODUCT, IF IT DOESN’T CONTAIN POTENT ANTIOXIDANTS TO INACTIVATE FREE RADICALS YOUR SKIN WILL LOSE ITS HEALTHY AND YOUTHFUL APPEARANCE!
Everyone has heard of antioxidants and everyone knows that antioxidant rich foods are good for you. However, not too many people actually know what an antioxidant is, how it works, and why it is “good” for you. Understanding what antioxidants are and how they work is not difficult. They are simply molecules (like vitamin C) that can prevent the oxidation (a loss of electrons) of other molecules. When molecules, like proteins, DNA or lipids lose an electron (undergo oxidation), they are structurally damaged (mutated) and no longer function normally, These mutations can lead to a wide number of medical problems including cancer, autoimmune disorders, aging, inflammatory skin diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease, to mention just a few. So just what causes molecules to undergo “oxidation’ and lose electrons? The answer is that FREE RADICALS carry out these oxidation events. But what are free radicals and how do they act to cause damage to proteins, DNA, lipids and other important molecules in your body?
FREE RADICALS AND REACTIVE OXYGEN SPECIES (ROS)
Free radicals are molecules or atoms with unpaired electrons. They are produced constantly in the body. As you’ll recall from high school chemistry, the nucleus of every atom is surrounded by electrons that travel around the nucleus in layers, called orbitals or “shells”. Each shell can hold a given number of electrons and when this number is reached additional electrons begin filling new “shells”. For example Oxygen (O) has 8 electrons and, of course, 8 protons in the nucleus to give an atomic mass of 16. The first electron shell can hold a maximum of 2 electrons while the second shell can hold 8 electrons. But since there are only 6 electrons left after 2 of the oxygen electrons filled the first shell, the second shell has 2 open spaces for 2 more electrons. Because of the open spaces, oxygen is actually considered a “biradical”. However, unlike other free radicals, oxygen is fairly stable (although not completely stable) with just 6 electrons in its outer shell because each electron has another one to “pair” with. If an atom has an electron with no partner to “pair” with, the atom becomes much more chemically reactive than those with paired or completely filled electron shells, and this “reactive” atom is called a “free radical”. Because atoms always want to reach a state of maximum stability, they will try to fill any “missing” electron in their “unfilled” shell by “stealing” an electron from another molecule. When the “target” molecule loses an electron to the free radical it then, in turn, becomes a free radical and must find a “donor” it can steal an electron from. Thus, an oxidative chain reaction begins that results in extensive damage to cellular proteins, lipids, membranes and DNA. These damaged molecules don’t function normally and this abnormal functioning can cause serious damage to all cells and organs in the body, and even lead to cancer.
Most free radicals in biological systems are derivatives of oxygen. The most common oxygen radicals in the body are the superoxide anion (O•2−) and the hydroxyl radical (•OH−). These free radicals are commonly called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), and when the skin is stressed by environmental stressors such as UV radiation or pollution, this “oxidative stress” leads to the formulation of high levels of ROS. Below is an image that shows several ROS.