What are Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)?

Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)—also called oxygen radicals—occur naturally in our bodies. They’re molecular byproducts of everyday metabolic processes; however, they’re incomplete, lacking electrons. As a result, they’re unstable. And, unfortunately, these problematic molecules can build up over time, leading to a variety of serious conditions.

How do ROS form and how can you defend against them? The answer is simpler than most people realize.  Boosting your antioxidant defenses with Vitamin E is an effective way to reduce the harmful effects of ROS—and protect healthy cells throughout the body.

Read on to learn about the link between ROS and oxidation, and how Vitamin E can help.

How do ROS form?

It’s no secret that we need oxygen to survive. It’s a critical part of many metabolic processes, and our cells require oxygen molecules in a variety of different capacities. However, due to its molecular structure, oxygen can easily lose electrons. When it does, the oxygen molecule becomes unstable: an oxygen radical.

There are several catalysts that can cause ROS to form. The process of ROS production includes mitochondria, which serve as a site for electron transportation; cytoplasmic enzymes; endoplasmic reticulum-bound enzymes; and the surface of the plasma membrane. During metabolic reactions, these are the key cellular components that play a role in ROS production.

ROS and their role in oxidative stress

Oxidative stress is a natural, yet damaging, process. It’s caused by an overabundance of free radicals, unstable molecules that search for stable electrons to bond to, which causes cellular damage and cellular death in the process. Your body naturally produces free radicals all the time due to factors like diet, exercise and even air pollution and sun exposure.

Oxygen radicals are unstable and contribute to the harmful effects of oxidative stress, causing major damage to DNA, RNA and proteins. If your body doesn’t have sufficient antioxidant defenses to counter ROS, the imbalance can lead to serious conditions including cancer, asthma, retinopathy and pulmonary hypertension.

While it seems counterintuitive, it’s healthy to have some free radicals. It’s when an overabundance of ROS overwhelms the body’s antioxidant defenses that oxidative stress occurs, damaging healthy cells.

Antioxidants can neutralize ROS

Antioxidants are your body’s defense against ROS. Following a healthy lifestyle can keep harmful radicals like ROS from multiplying and prevent oxidative stress from harming cells throughout the body. Eating the right foods, getting enough sleep and getting sufficient exercise can keep ROS levels low, but maintaining healthy antioxidant levels is key. Make sure you’re incorporating enough antioxidant-rich foods into your diet, particularly ones that are rich in Vitamin E, the strongest antioxidant.

Supplementing Vitamin E to reduce oxidative stress

In recent years, scientists have discovered a link between Vitamin E and the prevention of oxidative stress. Studies show that Vitamin E is an effective free-radical fighter, helping to neutralize harmful radicals including ROS.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient that’s stored in tissues throughout the body. Whenever your body detects the presence of harmful radicals, it relies on Vitamin E stores to bond to the unstable molecules and neutralize them before they can build up and contribute to oxidative stress. Consuming enough Vitamin E, either through dietary sources or supplements, provides an effective defense against harmful oxidative stress.

While Vitamin E alone can’t defend against conditions linked to oxidative damage—like cancer or diabetes—scientists believe that the nutrient can play a moderating effect against the abundance of free radicals. Boosting your antioxidant levels can be an effective defense against these harmful, chronic conditions and protect healthy cells and cellular function.

Vitamin E as a way of balancing ROS

Vitamin E is an effective ROS-fighting nutrient that keeps oxidative stress from harming cells. If you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and prevent some of the diseases that may be linked to ROS, increasing your Vitamin E intake can help.

Healthy adults need 15mg of Vitamin E every day to support normal bodily processes, but it can be hard to get enough of the nutrient from dietary sources alone. In many cases, it’s safe, convenient and effective to supplement with Vitamin E.

Always talk to your doctor before you incorporate a Vitamin E supplement into your daily routine. Only a healthcare professional can determine whether it’s right for you. If you receive approval, choose your supplement wisely. While there are plenty of options on the market, only an all-natural supplement will give your body the full benefits of the nutrient, allowing for proper absorption, to keep harmful radicals in check.


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