OILS HEAL AND PROTECT US FROM FREE RADICAL DAMAGE
Free radicals, oxidative stress
and premature aging
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 radical scavengers.
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
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 non-enzymatic antioxidants
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.
Extra virgin Siberian pine nut oil is an abundant
natural source of potent antioxidants, vitamins and health-promoting micronutrients providing an array of benefits for the digestive system
virgin Siberian pine nut oil, also called pine seed oil or cedar nut oil, is extracted from the edible seeds of Siberian pines growing in the wild forests of Russia and Mongolia. It is a rich
source of powerful antioxidants and vitamins, as well as antioxidant and vitamin
co-factors and “building blocks”.
Siberian pine nut oil 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, leading to gastritis and peptic ulcers. 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 E.
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 antioxidant itself.
The abundance of vitamin E and carotenoids alone would make extra virgin Siberian pine nut oil an excellent natural remedy for the digestive system, 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. Siberian 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. This also contributes to the powerful anti-inflammatory effect of pine nut oil, which further enhances its efficacy as a gastritis and peptic ulcer supplement.
Last, but not least, 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, vitamins, antioxidant cofactors, and healthful fatty acids (such as pinolenic acid unique to pine nut oil) makes Siberian pine nut oil an optimally balanced source of health-promoting natural compounds capable of neutralizing and reversing the negative effects of free radicals causing damage to the stomach lining and eventually leading to gastritis and peptic ulcers. Enhanced by its newly validated ability to naturally enhance metabolism and improve digestion, this makes Siberian 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
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
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.
(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
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
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,