When the term "free radicals" first came on my radar many years ago, my first thought was that it was the name of a band. I eventually found out that they are molecules that cause aging and diseases such as cancer. In the last 24 hours I became aware that there are several different kinds of radicals and reactive species. Relatively recent research has identified three:
- Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)
- Reactive Carbonyl Species (RCS)
- Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS)
Reactive oxygen species is a term that covers a whole bunch of pro-oxidants and oxygen radicals and it is probably what most of us think of when free radicals come to mind. ROS is known to be involved in cancer and Parkinson's, as well as wrinkles.
However, it might be worth getting to know the others as well. Because the various kinds of radicals do damage in different ways.
Reactive nitrogen species is linked to aging because they damage proteins and then the oxidated proteins become inactive and accumulate in cells where they can trigger programmed cell death. One RNS, called peroxynitrite, can cause lipid peroxidation, DNA damage and hyalurinic degradation.
So if there are different types of free radicals and subsets thereof (the illustration above does a good job of showing some the subsets and what might trigger them), it seems logical that you'll need more than one kind of antioxidant to help fend them off. In my post on Quench by Your Best Face, I mentioned that there was an ingredient called lipochroman-6 that is an able scavenger of RNS as well as ROS. According to Lipotec, who makes lipochronan-6, it does a significantly better job of fending off oxidative stress than resveratrol, the antioxidant component of grapes.
On the other hand, if you wanted to target the radicals known as Reactive Carbonyl Species (RCS), you'd be better off going for a product that includes aldenine, a combination of wheat and soy proteins and tripeptide-1. Learn a bit more about aldenine in my review of Osmotics Anti-Radical Age Defense Barrier Longevity Complex.