Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Nuremberg, Germany (4E) – Zinc has been found to activate an organic molecule that helps protect the body against oxidative stress, according to a new study by German and American researchers.
The study from the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) in Germany and Auburn University (AU) in Alabama discovered that zinc can protect against the “superoxide” responsible for oxidative stress.
Zinc is a trace mineral humans need to remain healthy. FAU and AU researchers have discovered zinc can protect against the superoxide responsible for oxidative stress when taken together with a component found in foodstuffs such as wine, coffee, tea and chocolate. Ageing and a low life expectancy are partly caused by oxidative stress.
A superoxide is a reactive form of oxygen (or oxygen with an extra electron) that can leak from the respiratory enzymes and damage cells. It can also cause mutations in DNA or attack enzymes that make amino acids and other essential molecules.
Superoxide contributes to the creation of many diseases, and also causes aging via the oxidative damage it inflicts on cells. Superoxide is a by-product of human cell respiration that damages the body’s own biomolecules, such as proteins or lipids, as well as the human genome.
It’s also thought to have a role to play in a number of illnesses such as inflammation, cancer or neurodegenerative diseases.
Zinc triggers the hydroquinone groups, thereby producing natural protection against superoxide. Researchers said hydroquinone alone isn’t capable of breaking down superoxide.
If zinc and hydroquinone combine, however, a metal complex is formed that imitates a superoxide dismutase enzyme (SOD). SODs protect the body from the degradation processes caused by oxidation and have an antioxidative effect. They metabolize superoxide, thereby preventing damage to the organism and avoiding oxidative stress.
For the first time, the function of SOD has been copied without reverting to redox-active transition metals such as manganese, iron, copper or nickel. While the metals might also have an antioxidative effect, any positive effects are quickly diminished by the fact that if too much is taken, these transition metals can even cause oxidative stress to increase.
Zinc is much less toxic than these transition metals, making it possible for new medication or supplements to be developed with considerably fewer side-effects.
It would also be plausible to add zinc to food that contains hydroquinone naturally to boost the consumer’s health. Researchers said it is certainly possible that wine, coffee, tea or chocolate may well become be available in future with added zinc.
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