Radical Oxygen Species (ROS), or free radicals, are unstable toxic by-products of normal oxygen metabolism. Some of their main targets are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) – the primary components of cell membranes. While they cause damage to PUFAs through a process called lipid peroxidation, free radicals can also cause extensive damage to the body’s cells and tissues through the process of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance of ROS and antioxidants. Antioxidants, including certain vitamins and minerals, can help fight against free radicals. Here we examine specific minerals that play significant roles as antioxidants.
According to a study published by RA DiSilvestro in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, copper acts as an antioxidant. The study involved increasing copper intake in female university students by supplementation with copper glycinate. After eight weeks of supplementation, the participants showed improved copper levels in both blood and urine samples. Supplementation produced a 39% mean decrease in one of the key markers of oxidative stress. The study found that in young adult women, increased copper intake can alter biochemical parameters relevant to copper function, including reducing free radical activity.
A study conducted by VA Baraboĭ and EN Shestakova helped demonstrate that the biological mechanism of selenium as an antioxidant. It demonstrated that selenium helps to support immune health, and is a much more potent antioxidant than beta carotene and vitamins E, C and A. Selenium provides potent antioxidant protection for the cells that line the entire circulatory system, as well as for low density lipoproteins (LDL), which aid in the transport of fats in the body, and help protect DNA and chromosomes.
In another study published in Biological Trace Element Research, selenium supplementation was shown to increase levels of glutathione peroxidase, which plays a major role in the body’s antioxidant defense. A key function of glutathione peroxidase is to scavenge and inactivate hydrogen and lipid peroxides, thereby protecting against oxidative stress. It is one of the most important antioxidant enzymes in the human body.
Look for the next newsletter from Albion Human Nutrition: Trace Minerals Fight Against Free Radicals: Part 2.