OILS HEAL AND PROTECT US FROM FREE RADICAL DAMAGE
Free radicals, oxidative stress and premature
Free radicals, also known as "reactive oxygen species"
(ROS), are atoms or atomic groups that contain unpaired electrons.
Since electrons have a very strong tendency to exist in a paired
rather than an unpaired state, free radicals indiscriminately
pick up electrons from other atoms, converting those other atoms
into secondary free radicals, and thus setting up a chain reaction
that can cause substantial biological damage. To protect itself
from the damaging action of free radicals, our bodies use substances
called antioxidants, which are also often referred to as free
Oxidative stress is defined as the state in which
the level of toxic reactive oxygen intermediates (ROI) overcomes
the endogenous antioxidant defences of the host (Bulger EM,
Helton WS; 1998). This state results in an excess of free
radicals, which can react with cellular lipids, proteins, and
nucleic acids, leading to local injury and eventual organ dysfunction.
According to Dr. Denham Harmon, MD, PhD, the process
of aging is caused by the indiscriminate chemical re-activity
of free radicals leading to random biological damage. If the free
radical overload becomes overwhelming, chronic inflammation, premature
aging and degenerative diseases result. His idea was confirmed
by many practical experiments, and it is now considered a major
theory of aging. Dr. Harmon's theory implies that antioxidants
such as vitamin C and vitamin E, which prevent free radicals from
oxidizing (removing electrons from) sensitive biological molecules,
will slow the aging process. Dr. Harmon launched his theory by
showing, for the first time, that feeding a variety of antioxidants
to mammals extended their life spans.
Free radicals are implicated
in more than 60 different diseases
In addition to premature aging, the destructive
effects of free radical chain reactions may be conducive to the
development of such widespread and serious health conditions as
peptic ulcers, gastritis, acid reflux, and IBS, cardiovascular
disease, diabetes, infertility, renal, liver and lung disease,
inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and cancer. Free radicals
may damage DNA and cause it to reproduce incorrectly, too rapidly,
or not at all. They can also change DNA to produce potential carcinogens.
The fact that free radicals play a major role in
the formation of gastric ulcers has been confirmed by many independent
researchers. All known risk factors for erosive/ulcerative esophageal,
gastric and duodenal disorders - such as smoking, excess alcohol
consumption, physical and emotional stress, etc. - deplete the
natural antioxidant defenses and cause a free radical overload.
As a result, the gentle, fragile mucosal lining of the esophagus,
stomach and duodenum becomes one of the first tissues to suffer
from damaging chain reactions induced by free radicals. To find
out more about the role of free radicals in gastrointestinal disorders
and about the results achieved by their treatment with antioxidant-rich
pine nut oil, please press here.
Free radicals alter the functioning of the cell.
While the cell is somewhat permeable to allow nutrients to enter
and wastes to be removed, free radicals change this, causing leakage
or clogging, and ultimately the death of the cell. Free radicals
interfere with the structures inside cells that produce energy,
and then leave the cells weak and defenseless.
Overall, it is now recognized that free radicals
contribute to more than 60 diseases. We can help body to "scavenge"
or "neutralize" free radicals before they cause harm by avoiding
environmental toxins as much as possible and increasing antioxidant
intake. Because antioxidant compounds are effective at very low
concentrations, we can gain protection from even moderate dietary
changes that increase antioxidant nutrients.
bodies protect themselves from free radicals by enzymatic and
Our bodies have developed several endogenous antioxidant
systems to deal with the production of free radicals. These systems
may be divided into enzymatic and non-enzymatic groups. The enzymatic
antioxidants include superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and
glutathione peroxidase. SOD catalyzes the breaking down of a free
radical called superoxide, which plays a major role in lipid peroxidation,
into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide, which is further decomposed
into water and oxygen by catalase. Glutathione peroxidase is also
used by the body to consume free peroxide in the cells.
It is very important to note that, for maximum efficiency,
these antioxidant enzymes require trace metal cofactors. SOD,
for example, consists of proteins co-factored with copper, zinc,
manganese, or iron. Iron is also required as a co-factor for catalase.
The most well-researched non-enzymatic antioxidants
include lipid-soluble vitamin E (tocopherol), vitamin A and carotenoids
(including beta-carotene), as well as water-soluble vitamin C
and glutathione (GSH). Glutathione, which is synthesized intracellularly
from amino acids cysteine, glycine, and glutamate, is capable
of scavenging free radicals either directly or enzymatically via
glutathione peroxidase. In addition, GSH is crucial to the maintenance
of enzymes and other cellular components in a reduced state.
Pine nut oil is a uniquely rich natural
source of powerful antioxidants
pine nut oil is a uniquely potent natural source of powerful
antioxidants, as well as antioxidant co-factors and “building
blocks”. First, it contains up to 56 mg/100 g of natural alpha-tocopherol
(vitamin E) – the most effective non-enzymatic antioxidant for
terminating the chain reactions of lipid peroxidation in cell
membranes. In its vitamin E content it is second only to wheat
germ oil and Camelina oil. It is
significantly richer in vitamin E than any other common vegetable
oil (for example, extra virgin olive oil contains five times less
vitamin E than extra virgin pine nut oil). And, finally, it is
very important that pine nut oil contains a natural, maximum-potency
form of vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol), whereas a vast
majority of vitamin E capsules sold as dietary supplements contain
synthetic forms of tocopherol (primarily dl-alpha-tocopherol
acetate), which are at best only half as potent as natural vitamin
The next important group of antioxidant compounds
present in extra virgin pine nut oil are carotenoids. Carotenoids
are organic pigments occurring in plants and some types of algae
and fungus. So far, more than 600 of them were identified. Their
molecular structure makes them very efficient free radical scavengers,
resulting in a powerful antioxidant effect. Some carotenoids (for
example, beta-carotene) fall into the category of pro-vitamin
A. From them, our body makes retinol (vitamin A), which is a potent
Pine nut oil is a rich source of carotenoids, supplying about
30 mg/100 g of these antioxidant and pro-vitamin compounds. The
fact that these carotenoids are dissolved in oil greatly increases
their bioavailability to our bodies in two ways. First, the carotenoids
are already released from the plant matrix (under certain circumstances,
this release may be difficult, making carotenoids in some foods
less usable compared to others), and, second, fat is a necessary
cofactor for carotenoid uptake.
abundance of vitamin E and carotenoids alone would make extra
virgin pine nut oil an excellent natural antioxidant supplement,
but there is much more to its antioxidant activity. As noted above,
another major antioxidant, glutathione, is a tripeptide synthesized
by our cells from three amino acids: cysteine, glycine, and glutamate.
Pine nut oil, rich in essential and non-essential amino acids,
supplies all three of these glutathione building blocks. Therefore,
it is also an important glutathione booster, capable of enhancing
the free radical scavenging performance of this major antioxidant
both directly and via glutathione peroxidase.
Finally, extra virgin pine nut oil is exceptionally
rich in trace metal cofactors for enzymatic antioxidants superoxide
dismutase (SOD) and catalase. It contains 20 mg/100 g of zinc,
16 mg/100 g of manganese, and 4 mg/100 g of copper - all of them
required for maximum efficiency of SOD. It also supplies about
19 mg/100 g of iron, an essential cofactor for both SOD and catalase.
Consequently, pine nut oil not only provides our body with a potent
boost of "external", non-enzymatic antioxidants (vitamin E and
carotenoids), but also reinforces and optimizes the body's own
enzymatic potential for scavenging free radicals expressed through
superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase. This
powerful combination of antioxidants and antioxidant cofactors
makes pine nut oil an excellent nutritional source of health-promoting
natural compounds capable of neutralizing and reversing the damaging
effects of free radicals. Enhanced by its newly validated ability
to naturally enhance metabolism and improve digestion, it makes
pine nut oil a welcome addition to the growing list of traditional
healing super-foods from around the globe.
Omega-3 fatty acids, free radicals and antioxidants
Omega-3 fatty acids are in the spotlight
of today's natural and holistic approaches to human health. These
healthy essential fats have been almost entirely forced out of
the everyday American diet by the commercialization of our food
supply by the food processing industry. In recent years, extensive
research and numerous clinical studies have confirmed that omega-3
fats are involved in many vital physiological processes in our
body, and that their deficit may cause or aggravate many serious
medical problems and conditions, including atherosclerosis, hypertension,
thrombosis, and other cardiovascular problems, arthritis, irritable
bowel syndrome, dermatitis, asthma, ADHD, gastroduodenal diseases
and even cancer. Therefore, adding a good source of omega-3 fatty
acids to one's diet is believed to be a good way of improving
or preventing these conditions.
However, almost any oil rich in omega-3s
goes rancid very easily, especially when its natural antioxidants
are removed by refining or distillation. This process is known
as auto-oxidation, and it generates millions and millions of damaging
free radicals. Bruce Fife, N.D., talks about these unwanted side
effects of taking unstable omega-3 oils in his article entitled
"The Facts on Flax"*:
"Polyunsaturated oils, including flaxseed
oil, are easily oxidized. When it oxidizes it kicks off a series
of free-radical chain reactions that affects all molecules around
it. Millions of molecules can be destroyed or oxidized by the
generation of a single free radical. Cholesterol that is in close
proximity to a polyunsaturated oil that is becoming oxidized,
as is the case in lipoproteins, will also become oxidized. These
oxidized, free-radical damaged oils are absorbed into the lining
of the artery walls and contribute to the formation of plaque."
Oxidation and free radical formation is, indeed,
a major problem with flax oil for which no solution has been offered
so far. The oil is poor in natural antioxidants, and starts going
rancid as soon as it is pressed from the seeds. Most commercially
available varieties of flax oil, both liquid and encapsulated,
get rancid before they are consumed. And even if they don't, there
is no way to avoid oxidation and rancidity once the oil enters
your body. Once ingested, it inevitably triggers free radical
chain reactions, damaging millions upon millions of healthy molecules.
Your body tries to stop these reactions with its own natural reserves
of antioxidants, such as vitamin E, putting these reserves under
an unnecessary and undesirable stress. As a result, the benefits
of taking flax oil may well be outweighed by the harm done by
free radicals and other toxic by-products of lipid oxidation.
Camelina (wild flax) oil is rich in both omega-3 fatty acids
and powerful natural antioxidants
Considering the above, one inevitably comes
to the conclusion that none of the commercially available sources
of omega-3 fatty acids is fully satisfactory and completely problem-free.
While it is possible to achieve the required level of omega-3
supplementation using either fish and fish-derived products, or
flax oil, it would be highly desirable to have an omega-3-rich
oil that would also be more resistant to oxidation and free of
toxic contaminants. The good news is that such an oil does, indeed,
exist. This is the oil of Camelina (wild
From the times of the Roman Empire to the
Second World War, Camelina (Camelina sativa)
oil was a common edible oil all over Europe, and especially in
Germany, Scandinavia, and Russia. In Russia, it was much preferred
to flax oil because of its better taste and higher stability,
and commanded a significantly higher market price. Camelina
seeds produce a golden-colored oil with a delicate, almond-like
flavor, containing up to 45 per cent of omega-3 alpha-linolenic
acid (ALA). In addition to valuable omega-3s, it is uniquely rich
in powerful antioxidants, primarily tocopherols. At 110 mg/100
g, its vitamin E (tocopherol) content is among the highest of
all natural tocopherol sources. By contrast, flax oil contains
only trace amounts of vitamin E.
The fatty acid composition of Camelina
oil is also unique and very beneficial in terms of its health-promoting
qualities. While being a rich source of ALA, the oil is highly
monounsaturated, naturally supplying more than 30 percent of stable
monounsaturated (oleic and gadoleic) fatty acids. This significant
proportion of monounsaturates (monounsaturated olive oil forms
the basis of the healthy Mediterranean diet) further enhances
the oxidative stability of Camelina oil and makes it a
more versatile cooking oil.
The combination of these important advantages
makes Camelina oil
the most balanced and desirable source of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.
While supplying almost as much omega-3s as flax oil, it is highly
stable and abundant in vitamin E and other natural antioxidants,
as well as beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids. As a result,
it does not promote the formation of harmful free radicals. On
the contrary, it helps resist their destructive effects by providing
powerful antioxidant protection.
The delicate, pleasant taste and aroma of
Camelina oil makes it an excellent salad and cooking oil.
On our easy recipes page, you will
find many creative and innovative ways of using Camelina
oil in your kitchen.
If you would like to order cold-pressed, unrefined
Camelina oil or extra virgin Siberian pine nut oil, please visit
out order page. If you want more
information or have additional questions, please send an e-mail
to our holistic nutritionists at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are looking forward to hearing from you!
Bruce Fife, N.D. The Facts on Flax. Excerpted from the book Saturated
Fats May Save Your Life, Piccadilly Books, 1999.
©Copyright 2004-2017 Siberian Tiger Naturals, Inc. All Rights
Reserved. Note: Extra virgin pine nut oil, Sea Buckthorn oil and Camelina (wild flax) oil are foods. However, under certain circumstances
they may be considered dietary supplements under US Law. With regard
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