How the Body Responds to Oxidative Stress, and How to Best Counter Them

Congratulations. You’ve found the culprit for almost ALL  the ailments sustained by the human body as it ages!

Increasing knowledge about free radicals, antioxidants, and oxidative stress has revolutionized the management of many diseases, including cancer and metabolic diseases. It has paved the way for a deeper understanding of almost any ailment affecting the human body.

Isn’t it ironic that oxygen, an element vital to the survival of life, can also work against life? 

That is what oxidative stress is all about. 

Here at The Injection and Infusion Clinic of ABQ, we educate you about oxidative stress, and we show you the best way to counter it.

 

Oxidative stress: The What and the How

Oxidative stress is the state of the human body where there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants.

How does it happen?

As biological systems undergo metabolism, it gives off metabolic by-products. These by-products include reactive oxygen species (ROS), including superoxide radicals, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radicals, and singlet oxygen.

 The body fails to detoxify the reactive products in cells and tissues and causes oxidative stress.

Overproduction of free radicals results in reactions with cell membrane fatty acids and proteins. This overproduction results in the permanent impairment of these fatty acids and proteins.

Oxidative stress occurs once there are many reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species in the body, such that it outnumbers the antioxidants.

Many body processes are dependent on the adequate production of ROS, such as protein phosphorylation, activation of several transcriptional factors, apoptosis (or cell death), immunity, and differentiation. Inability to balance this production will result in harmful effects on proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. When free radicals overwhelm the body’s ability to control and regulate them, oxidative stress happens.

Oxidative stress activates inflammatory pathways, hence leading to inflammation. Chronic inflammation then leads to many age-related diseases, including cancer, and is responsible for the visible effects of aging.

Studies have documented oxidative stress can be responsible for the onset and progression of several diseases such as cancer, diabetes, metabolic disorders, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular diseases. Oxidative stress plays a critical role in disease development, and the substances noted as antioxidants act as a safeguard against the accumulation of ROS in the body. Hence, there should be a balance between free radicals and antioxidants to maintain proper physiological function.

Understanding oxidative stress has resulted in the application of external antioxidants to cope up with its deleterious effects. Here at the Injection and Infusion Clinic of ABQ, we offer a series of infusions designed for that specific purpose.

Oxidative Stress and Its Link to Human Diseases

Oxidative stress has significant involvement in many conditions, specifically atherosclerosis, inflammation, cancer, and aging. As further studies dived deep into oxidative stress, it seems  to contribute to:

  1. Inflammatory diseases (e.g., arthritis, vasculitis, glomerulonephritis, lupus erythematosus, adult respiratory diseases)
  2. Ischemic diseases (e.g., heart disease, stroke, intestinal ischemia)
  3. Neurological disorders (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, ALS)
  4. Hemochromatosis
  5. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
  6. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other smoking-related diseases (emphysema)
  7. Organ transplantation
  8. Gastric ulcers
  9. Hypertension
  10. Preeclampsia
  11. Alcoholism

A study in 2014 evaluated the indispensable role of a low concentration of ROS in intracellular signaling and its function against pathogens. Environmental stressors are responsible for the increase of ROS production, leading to tissue damage. Examples of these environmental stressors include UV, ionizing radiation, pollutants, heavy metals, and xenobiotics.

The diet can also be contributory to the production of free radicals. Unfortunately, some food contains direct and easy sources of free radicals, such as fats and oils, cooked and processed meat, alcoholic beverages, and excessive intake of antioxidant supplements.

Signs and Symptoms of Oxidative Stress

Can we easily detect if our body is experiencing a lot of oxidative stress? Yes, we can. The common tangible signs and symptoms of oxidative stress include:

  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog or memory loss
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Wrinkles, reduction of skin elasticity, and other skin conditions
  • Grey hair, thinning of hair.
  • Changes in vision 
  • Headaches and noise sensitivity
  • Susceptibility to infection
  • Slower wound healing
  • Excessive weight gain, hormonal imbalances
  • Food sensitivities
  • Bloating
  • Constipation 
  • Nasal congestion 

However, we can still feel normal, unaware of the amount of oxidative stress our body is going through. The presence of biomarkers helps detect these silent changes, and the Injection and Infusion Clinic of ABQ can assist you with that! 

Oxidative Stress Biomarkers

One of the detrimental effects of oxidative stress is lipid peroxidation. It damages lipids by an excess of the hydroxyl radical and peroxynitrite, resulting in damage of cell membranes and lipoproteins.

Lipid peroxidation leads to cytotoxic and mutagenic substances such as malondialdehyde (MDA) and conjugated diene compounds. Lipoproteins lose their function or are even altered because of conformational changes. 

Another biomarker for oxidative stress is 8-oxo-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG). The 8-OHdG is an incredibly destructive DNA lesion that can cause mutagenesis and loss of epigenetic information. Epigenetic changes control the turning “on” and turning “off” of gene expression. 

Both the environment and behavior influence epigenetic changes, including DNA methylation, histone modification, and non-coding RNA. Epigenetic changes occur as part of development and aging and in response to your behavior and the externalenvironment. 

Epigenetic changes can affect health in many ways. It can weaken one’s immune response, cause mutation, or increase cancer risk that can subsequently lead to cancer. It can also affect pregnant women and their unborn babies, with previous literature linking changes in methylation to the baby’s propensity to develop certain diseases at a later point in life. This change makes the detection of 8-OHdG particularly important even in pregnant women. 

The good news is the Injection and Infusion Clinic of ABQ offers an affordable way of detecting these biomarkers. You may inquire or schedule an appointment with our front desk personnel at this number: 505-445-4300.

Counteracting Oxidative Stress through Antioxidants 

 Knowing the extent of the damage that oxidative stress can cause, the next step is to identify how to counteract it. Since oxidative stress is a daily phenomenon, it is vital to know how to prevent imbalance and live a better quality of life.

What is an antioxidant? 

 Did you know the chemical that prevented the consumption of oxygen became known as an antioxidant?

Simply put, antioxidants are molecules that are stable enough to neutralize a free radical, hence reducing its capacity to inflict damage to adjacent cells. Antioxidants delay or prevent cellular damage by scavenging these free radicals. 

Science classifies antioxidants as either endogenous or exogenous. Endogenous antioxidants are naturally produced by the body, while exogenous antioxidants are supplied externally either through diet or supplementation.

The body also formulated its own mechanism against oxidative damage by producing endogenous antioxidants,  classified as either enzymatic or non-enzymatic antioxidants. The most familiar is the non-enzymatic antioxidants, including lipoic acid, glutathione, ʟ-arginine, and coenzyme Q10.  Today, there are several products on the market making these non-enzymatic antioxidants available for supplementation and help the body counteract the effects of oxidative damage. 

 Diet, oral supplementation, topical applications, or IV infusions supply exogenous antioxidants. Micronutrient antioxidants include vitamin E (α-tocopherol), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and B-carotene. The body does not produce these micronutrient antioxidants. Thus, the body gets them through external means.  IV infusions provide these micronutrient antioxidants to the human body nowadays, hence skipping the first-pass metabolism and with technology making the compounds 100% bioavailable for the body to use.

Levels of Antioxidant Function

Do you know antioxidants function at different levels? These levels are (1) preventive, (2) radical scavenging, (3) repair and de novo, and (4) adaptation. Learning these different levels will help us have a better understanding of how antioxidants work.

The first line of defense is composed of preventive antioxidants. These antioxidants directly stop the formation and production of free radicals.

These, it is postulated,  preventive antioxidants react to hydroperoxides and hydrogen peroxide, resulting in the latter’s reduction to alcohols and water without generating free radicals. Examples of this type of antioxidant include glutathione peroxidase, glutathione-s-transferase, phospholipid hydroperoxide, glutathione peroxidase (PHGPX), and peroxidase.

The second line of defense involves antioxidants that scavenge active radicals. This defense results in the suppression of chain propagation reactions. 

This type of antioxidant is exogenous and is either water-soluble or lipid-soluble. Examples of water-soluble antioxidants are Vitamin C, uric acid, bilirubin, albumin, and thiols. On the other hand, lipid-soluble antioxidants are Vitamin E and ubiquinol. The most potent radical-scavenging antioxidant is Vitamin E.

The third line of defense is composed of the repair and de novo antioxidants. Most of these are endogenous and are present inside the mammalian cells. These antioxidants function in recognizing, degrading, and removing oxidatively modified proteins, therefore preventing their accumulation.

It also involves DNA repair systems that are innate in the cell. Glycosylases and nucleases are examples of enzymes that repair DNA damaged by oxidative stress.

The fourth line of defense is called adaptation. This defense is more accurate and precise signaling, so the exact site affected by oxidative stress receives the right and appropriate antioxidant. Signals from reactions of free radicals induce adaptation. 

Lipoic acid and Glutathione: Non-enzymatic, Endogenous Antioxidants

We are probably familiar with supplements such as lipoic acid and glutathione. But how do these antioxidants work?

Lipoic acid is a naturally occurring compound that functions as a cofactor in many cell processes. It is a direct antioxidant, which classifies it as part of the first defense against oxidative stress.

 Lipoic acid has transient radical scavenging activity, making it fit for the second line of defense antioxidant. 

Lipoic acid noted to increase glucose utilization, is used widely in patients with metabolic disorders.  Lipoic acid manages diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

Studies are also currently ongoing for lipoic acid. It’s thought to slow down disease progression in mouse models for multiple sclerosis and possible benefits in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. 

Lipoic acid supplementation in humans comes either in oral form or via an IV infusion. Both routes of administration are effective and without serious adverse effects, except for some allergic reactions. Overall, it is regarded safe at the recommended doses.

On the other hand, glutathione has gained so much popularity nowadays as a very potent antioxidant. 

Glutathione, noted to play critical roles in protecting cells against the effects of oxidative stress,  protects against ROS, and protects the cell against the ROS’ by-products. It is naturally found inside the cell but has multiple functions inside and outside the cell. It is composed of three amino acids: glutamine, cysteine, and glycine. 

Glutathione also plays a significant role in recycling other antioxidants such as Vitamin C and E. Thus, getting glutathione along with Vitamin C and E can result in better outcomes.  Glutathione enables these vitamins to remove free radicals and decrease oxidative stress.

Glutathione,  most recognized for its activity in delaying cell death or apoptosis, makes it remarkably effective against the effects of oxidative stress on aging. Furthermore, adequate glutathione levels result in healthy concentrations of white blood cells, vital in fighting infection. 

A study also supports glutathione’s importance against chronic inflammation seen in inflammatory lung diseases. It acts as an immunomodulator, controlling the inflammation process in the face of oxidative stress.

Most glutathione is produced intracellularly in the liver, and it plays a big part in liver detoxification. Glutathione is actively used and produced in cells; hence, glutathione levels decrease as the human body ages. 

However, there are times when there is an increased demand for glutathione, hence depleting its concentration in the body. This depletion happens with inadequate nutrition, stress, illnesses, exposure to environmental toxins, and aging. 

Therefore, it is necessary to help the body amp up its glutathione levels. Glutathione increases naturally through diet, but the body does not fully absorb this. Due to the interest sparked by glutathione in researchers, there are now several routes of administration available for this antioxidant:

  • oral (pills, solutions, sublingual tablets, syrups, and sprays), 
  • parenteral (intravenous and intramuscular), 
  • intranasal, and
  • intrabronchial 

In terms of administration, oral glutathione is also the most common type and is available in various health food stores as a dietary supplement. 11 Unfortunately, there are still many debates on the bioavailability of oral glutathione and how the body maintains its levels. 

But there is a better way to ensure you are getting the right dose: intravenous glutathione infusions.  Like any other drug given intravenously, glutathione infusions are more likely to result in 100% bioavailability, unlike oral glutathione supplementation.

If you want to know more about lipoic acid and glutathione infusions, you can schedule an appointment at our front desk or call our hotline at 505-445-4300. We will be happy to assist you in discovering these very potent antioxidants. 

Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B complex: Exogenous Vitamin Antioxidants

Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is one of the lipid-soluble antioxidants obtained exclusively from the diet. It is a very potent antioxidant that effectively stops the production of ROS formed when fat undergoes oxidation.

One of Vitamin E’s major effects is its ability to prevent platelet hyperaggregation, leading to atherosclerosis. It also reduces the production of thromboxane, which causes platelet clumping, thereby leading to thrombotic sequelae. Numerous studies show vitamin E supplements can decrease the concentration of lipid peroxidation in patients with oxidative stress.

There are many potential uses for Vitamin E, but there is still a lack of evidence to establish its role in health and disease as far as research is concerned. One of the probable reasons is the lack of validated biomarkers for vitamin E intake and status to link Vitamin E intake to valid clinical outcome predictors.

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is one of the most studied antioxidants, although it can act both as a prooxidant or an antioxidant. Like Vitamin E, ascorbic acid must be obtained from the diet as it can’t break down in the human body.

Vitamin C is known for its ability to scavenge hydroperoxyl radicals. Vitamin C biologically functions as a co-factor for several enzymes, especially in hydroxylases involved in collagen synthesis. Vitamin C has roles in cancer chemoprevention and the therapy for cancer, sepsis, and neurodegenerative diseases. 

Also ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C, is a key player in enhancing neutrophils’ ability (a type of white blood cell) in killing bacteria. These positive effects explain why Vitamin C,  in patients known to have low Vitamin C levels, specifically in immunocompromised, elderly, and hospitalized individuals receive supplementation.

The six B group vitamins demonstrate both prooxidant and antioxidant activities. A study documented different conditions influence whether the B group vitamins take on a prooxidant function or antioxidant function. In general, however, it was noted that as lipid peroxidation increased, the more these B vitamins function as antioxidants.

In summary, the B vitamins take on the following roles against oxidative stress: 18

  • Vitamin B1, or thiamine, helps in the structural development of brain cells and alcohol detoxification.

  • Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, recycles glutathione, which is the most crucial antioxidant which protects against free radicals in the body.

  • Vitamin B3, or niacin, is the vital precursor of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP). NAD and NADP play crucial roles in metabolism and scavengers of free radicals, protecting tissues from oxidative damage.

  • Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid is incorporated into Coenzyme A (CoA) and plays an essential role in energy metabolism. 

  • Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine is involved in red blood cell production and has a significant role in liver detoxification.   Its deficiency may cause liver dysfunction. 

  • Vitamin B9 or folate is also involved in red blood cell production. 

  • Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is vital in red blood cell production, and is responsible for maintaining homocysteine levels. High levels of homocysteine cause cardiovascular diseases. 

The Injection and Infusion Clinic of ABQ helps you address oxidative stress problems through an infusion of these vitamins. 

Intravenous infusion of vitamin supplements will result in higher bioavailability compared to oral supplementation. It is vital to have the right dose and get it from the right clinic. To know more about these vitamin infusions, please schedule an appointment at our front desk or through the hotline 505-445-4300.

Detecting Oxidative Stress

So how do we start? We should begin with early detection. 

Regardless of whether you are experiencing symptoms of oxidative stress or not, it is best to submit yourself for a test to see your levels of oxidative stress.

Here at The Injection and Infusion Clinic of ABQ, we offer an objective way to measure how our body deals with daily oxidative stress. We call it the Oxidative Stress Panel, wherein we use a blood and urine sample to evaluate your antioxidant reserves and the damage existing free radicals have caused.

With just a urine sample, you can directly measure oxidative stress in your body using oxidative stress biomarkers for (1) lipid peroxides and (2) 8-OHdG. The process is noninvasive and very convenient for everyone. 

A clinician obtains a blood sample to evaluate for the following: 

  • Glutathione (GSH) 
  • Total Antioxidant Capacity (TAC) 
  • Cysteine (Cys-SH) 
  • Sulfate Cysteine/Sulfate Ratio Cystine (Cys-S-S-Cys) 
  • Cysteine/Cystine Ratio Glutathione Peroxidase (GPX) 
  • Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) 
  • Lipid Peroxides

The patient should fast for ten (10) hours overnight before collecting the urine and the blood draw. It is best to schedule ahead with the Injection and Infusion Clinic of ABQ to avoid any confusion and inconvenience. You may schedule an appointment at the front desk or call our hotline at 505-445-4300.

Takeaway

The body is constantly in a battle against environmental stress and pathogens. Oxidative stress happens when the body’s naturally occurring antioxidants can no longer address free radicals’ buildup. 

Research and technology have helped us come up with solutions for the dilemma. Supplementation of antioxidants is now available through various means. One of the best ways to develop the highest bioavailability of these antioxidants is through intravenous infusions. It is an excellent way to bypass the first-pass metabolism, which results in lesser absorption of antioxidants. The occurrence of the first-pass metabolism is always a main drawback for oral supplementation. 

Schedule an appointment with The Injection and Infusion Clinic of ABQ today!