Benefits of Free Radicals
Unfortunately there is a lot of hype on the dangers
of free radicals, but you never hear of the benefits. The body generates
some free radicals to benefit the body in different ways. The most important
of these free radicals is hydrogen peroxide, which is generated by superoxide
dismutase, in many cells, to activate white blood cells. Some flora
produce peroxide to kill bacteria and fungi. White blood cells, such
as NK cells, generate peroxide to destroy pathogens and cancer cells.
Healthy cells use antioxidants, and antioxidant enzymes
(catalase, glutathione peroxidase, selenium methionine peroxidase, and
superoxide dismutase) to protect themselves from the damaging effects
of free radicals. Diseased cells, such as cancer cells, and microbes
often do not have these same defenses making them more vulnerable to
attack by the free radicals produced by the body. There is a limited
supply of antioxidants available to cells. Therefore, if the amount
of free radicals present exceeds the body's ability to neutralize the
unnecessary free radicals, then damage can occur.
On the flip side, taking excess levels of antioxidants
can actually suppress the immune system by locking up beneficial free
radicals, like hydrogen peroxide.