FREE RADICAL GENERATION AND THE ANTIOXIDANT ( (PART II) - Atomic theory for clarification
Updated: Jun 8, 2021
Blended excerpts from Potential Within A Guide to Nutritional Empowerment
Authored by Franco Cavaleri ISBN 0-9731701-0-7
Original post: February 4, 2011
This article is composed of multiple excerpts to result in tone and content shifts and reference numbering that may be out of order.
The hypothesized concept of the atom has been under development for more than 2,500 years, and we’re still unveiling more about it. Matter, as I’ve previously outlined, is made up of particles, which are invisible to us even with the tremendous technology we have at our disposal. The atom is the unit that makes up all matter in our universe. Atoms are essentially empty spaces of pulsating energy.
Particle trails, interactions, and other indicators serve as evidence for their existence and properties. Based on ingenious contributions from scientists such as Isaac Newton, John Dalton, Amedeo Avogadro, Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein, Max Planck, James Chadwick, and others, we’ve established an accepted model for the atom. This model is purely speculative, yet we base everything scientific on it. Ironically our definition of science is that it’s “a branch of study concerned with the observation and classification of facts with the establishment of verifiable laws.”
However, quantum mechanics and our depiction of the atom are based on probabilities, and probabilities aren’t absolute. If we stretch this concept, we could say these probabilities are verifiable and are based on our ability to verify the probable events so that the depiction of the atom is based on fact. Whew! But the concept of verifiable probabilities is in itself a paradox.
Ultimately the model of the atom, the founding unit of matter, the particle constituting the fabric of the universe and our bodies, isn’t conclusive at all. Yet we base our so-called science on this model.
FIGURE 2: (figure available in Potential Within)
The elements that make up the periodic table are essentially a variety of atoms. These elements are found in our environment in mixtures, in pure forms, and in gaseous, liquid, and solid states. Typically they can change from one form to another based on their level of atomic energy, a state that can be influenced by temperature, pressure, light, and inducement from other atoms. These energy states are reflective of electron activity of the atom in relation to the atom’s nucleus. We experience these transitions in state daily such as by boiling water to produce steam and vapor (liquid to gas), or by freezing the same water to produce ice cubes (liquid to solid).
Although we can easily assert how one substance will react to temperature and other influences when it’s isolated, we’re far from being able to predict precisely how these atoms or the molecules they make up will respond in a soup of man-made and natural reactants. As much as we think we have a deep understanding of the atom, we haven’t even scratched the surface.
However, there are many facts based on distant observations that we do know for certain. One of these is that the free radical, an atom or group of atoms, contributes to uncontrolled oxidation in the body, and uninhibited oxidation propagates disease (1). Various chemicals, those of unnatural origin as well as many that are natural byproducts, can instigate and proliferate free-radical generation to increase the risk of disease. In other words, no matter how hard we try we can’t escape the free-radical assault from our environment. This activity strikes right through us like lightning. Free radicals don’t just bounce off skin as though it were a metal shield and the free radical a rubber bead.
The free radical that’s generated outside the body can, upon contact, damage the molecules or atoms that make up skin. The reactivity doesn’t end there. It continues like a domino effect through the skin to affect molecules in contact and closeproximity—an indefinite chain of reactivity. Protection from this hazard comes in the form of cell-incorporated antioxidants such as vitamin E and alpha lipoic acid, which slow down the reactivity. The antioxidant shield acts more like a sponge or a goopy gel matrix to absorb the momentum of the free radical that ricochets our way. With this gel matrix in place the free radical can’t filter through as quickly or as deeply.
However, the absorption potential of antioxidants is limited, so that the more toxicity we’re exposed to, the more light from the sun and tanning beds we subject ourselves to, the more absorption potential we need. Keep in mind that once we run out of absorption potential, the ultraviolet-light, toxin-activated free radicals are allowed to infiltrate deeper into the body where, if we’re prepared, they’ll meet a second line of antioxidant defense guarding the core. If we’re not properly fortified, though, free radicals will invade our bodies further, literally scalding us from the inside out.
Compounding this bombardment from the outside, the body produces free radicals by way of metabolic activity. Emotional and mental states drive free-radical generation, as well, as we’ll see in more detail later. In addition, we all take in free radicals and other toxins through air and food. A larger intake of calories results in greater metabolic activity and more free-radical production at the body’s core (2). This is the basis for calorie restriction as part of Ageless Performance; it’s a good fit as a life-extension program. With more physical activity, more oxygen is metabolized, and this, as well, increases the rate of cellular free-radical generation (3).
Frankly there’s no escape. Free radicals will flood your body from the outside in and the inside out. Antioxidant protection must be supplied completely to protect you from uncontrolled combustion. An effective program is much more than singular antioxidants; it’s complex and comprehensive, and Ageless Performance brings it together in just the right combinations and proportions.
Without going too deeply into quantum mechanics (a theory dealing with the motion and interaction of atoms and their components—electrons, neutrons, and protons), let’s briefly look at the atom and the development of the free radical. Our basic theory of the atom involves a dense central core, the nucleus, made up of protons (positive charge) and neutrons (neutral charge). This core typically possesses a positive charge overall. Orbiting the atom’s nucleus are negatively charged electrons with a relative mass of zero, offsetting the positive charge of the nucleus. An atom that has as many electrons (negative charge) orbiting it as it has protons (positive charge) within it has no net charge. In other words, the atom is neutral.
Furthermore, the electrons are typically organized into distinct “orbitals.” An oxygen atom, for example, normally has eight electrons revolving around a nucleus containing eight protons and eight neutrons. The nucleus, in this case, has a positive charge of eight, which is offset or neutralized by eight negatively charged electrons. Two of these eight electrons (8-e) can be easily removed from the oxygen atom if it’s excited by heat, light, electricity, other electrons, or even other atoms. These two electrons are in the outermost orbit of the atom and are influenced less intensely by the positive attraction of the nucleus (the core). The loss of negatively charged electrons leaves this atom with a net positive charge. The net positive charge comes from the eight protons (8+p) that still exist at the core of the nucleus (8+p + 8-e = 80 [neutral atomic charge]; 8+p + 6-e = 2+ [positive 2 atomic charge]).
However, the oxygen atom can also pull these negatively charged electrons into its outer orbit, since its central core has the positive force to do so. This force is similar but obviously not the same as the gravitational pull found in our solar system. The orbitals of electrons are often described as organized cloud patterns or clusters, as Figure 2 on page 100 conveys. Electrons usually exist in pairs that offset each other to impart stability.
These pairings form the basis of free-radical activity.
As mentioned earlier, this idea of atomic structure is built entirely on speculation derived from mathematical equations and observations. The mathematical equations merely determine probabilities of what could be, where it could be, and why it should be. Are they fact or fiction? Certainly the educated guesses are based on facts, but the atom is ultimately a figment of our calculated imagination. The oxygen we breathe is diatomic, which means that in its gaseous state it’s made up of two atoms of oxygen, hence the O2 nomenclature.
These two atoms share electrons in their outer orbits. This sharing of whole atoms is called covalent bonding. When O2 is used in the mitochondria to produce ATP, the body’s universal energy source, the reaction can yield an oxygen atom with a positive charge and an oxygen atom with a negative charge as follows: O2 0 = O-2 + O+2 or O2 0 = O-e-e + O+2.
Incidentally the 0 in O2 0 indicates a relative zero or neutral charge. The reaction can also result in the separation of the two atoms, leaving two oxygen atoms in their neutral state.
FIGURE 3: (figure found in Potential Within)
In the former case, O+2 is missing two of its orbiting electrons, and the other, O-2, has retained the two from its partner oxygen atom, two more than it would have had in a neutral state. These charged atoms are oxygen ions; the one with the extra electrons is relatively negative and the one that has lost its electrons from the outermost orbit is relatively positive.
There is a more complex level of activity within the subatomic continuum than the above description. In addition, there are a myriad of influences from other atoms or catalysts from the biological soup of reactants in our body to produce a considerable array of interacting byproducts that include these oxygen atoms or ions.
Go to part I – The Free Radical is not always the bad guy Go to Part III – A Radical Generation Go to Part IV – The Neutralizing Antioxidant Got to Nutraceuticals-Pharmaceuticals interactions database