Free Radical. Definition

Medical Definition: Free Radical

Highly reactive chemical that often contains oxygen and is produced when molecules are separated to generate products with unpaired electrons (a process called oxidation). The term free radical is discussed frequently in the study of nutrition and health, because it is an atom or a molecule containing an unpaired electron in the outer layer of the electron. These atoms can be produced and enter the human body by smoking or the effects of alcohol, heavy metals, pesticides and other toxins. It damages the body's cells by separating the electrons from the atoms that constitute the structure of the cell, especially DNA. This produces a chain reaction as each atom is now positively charged with stealing electrons from their neighboring atoms. Finally, if the cell DNA is too damaged to repair itself, the cell dies and the body begins to age prematurely (as seen in the wrinkled faces of heavy smokers.) So we need to eat plenty of natural antioxidants in food, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and certain enzymes and cofactors. These absorb essential nutrients and neutralize free radicals and thus preventing them to continue to harm the body.

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