STRESS MAY BE HARMFUL TO YOUR HEALTH

STRESS IS A RISK FACTOR FOR MANY DISEASE STATES.

Pick up any magazine and you will likely find an article on why and how to reduce stress. Less commonly considered is stress that occurs on a molecular level. While oxygen is essential for life, unstable oxygen molecules, called free radicals, initiate detrimental change in the body. Each person’s cells and tissues are constantly subjected to attack by these highly reactive free radicals, causing what is termed oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause cell damage and is believed to contribute to aging and the development of chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s.

ANTIOXIDANT SUPPORT

Antioxidants protect us by fighting free radicals, neutralizing and converting them into less harmful products. Antioxidants can be enzymes, essential nutrients (carotenoids, vitamins C and E, cysteine and selenium), and a variety of endogenous ordinary compounds (glutathione, lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10). It is important to note that individual antioxidants function not in isolation, but as part of systems with significant interdependence and additive or synergistic effects.

A DYNAMIC BALANCE

Antioxidant status is the balance between the antioxidant system and prooxidants in living organisms. This balance is dynamic and is affected by many factors including diet, environment, alcohol, injury, disease, medications, stress, and exercise. A serious imbalance favoring oxidation is defined as oxidative stress. It may result from excessive production of free radicals and/or weakening of the antioxidant system because of inadequate intake or endogenous production of antioxidants.

ANTIOXIDANT SUPPLEMENTATION

Many people work at improving their health, yet some individuals still have deficiencies. One size does not fit all when it comes to maintaining optimal health. Because each of us is metabolically and biochemically unique, the micronutrient requirements for one person may be quite different from the requirements for another. Beyond intake, the optimal function of a nutrient requires absorption from the intestine, transport into the bloodstream, uptake into cells, which requires appropriately-functioning membrane transport systems, and either one or, in many cases, multiple metabolic enzymes with appropriate co-factors. (I know… it’s more than you needed to know.) This is important though because the result is that one might have a nutrient functional deficiency; the blood levels of a nutrient may be “normal” but the functionality of that nutrient may not be sufficient to maintain optimal health. Many doctors utilize a blood test from Spectracell Laboratories called SPECTROX™ to measure the net ability of the antioxidant and repair mechanisms of an individual’s own cells, giving a total assessment of antioxidant function. This Functional Intracellular Analysis (FIA) takes all the many factors mentioned above into consideration to identify your unique nutrient and antioxidant status. With this information, specific deficiencies or excesses that might be negatively influencing your health may be corrected.

Laura D. Baum, MD