Reactive oxygen radicals – the therapeutic effectiveness of antioxidants

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Oxidative stress occurring in cells is a consequence of an excessive activity of reactive oxygen forms, resulting from an imbalance between the release of free oxygen radicals and their removal from the cell by antioxidant systems. 90% of reactive oxygen radicals emerge in mitochondrial respiratory chain during an incomplete four-electron oxygen reduction. The remaining 10% originate from different reactions occurring in the cell. The established compounds are characterised by a short half-life and are highly reactive. Sparse quantities of free oxygen radicals have a positive effect on cell functions. Oxidative stress leads to damage in cellular membranes, enzymatic and non-enzymatic proteins, as well as DNA. Therapy with antioxidants as exogenous dietary supplements aims at preventing or reducing the risk of development of diseases involving the presence of the oxygen radicals. Whether the antioxidant therapy will bring positive or negative effects depends on numerous factors that need to be considered before their inclusion in the applied treatment.

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