Superoxide Dismutase and Disease Prevention
Superoxide dismutase is one of those super good-for-you antioxidants doctors and nutritionists are always telling us we should “get more of.” Why? Well, because every day our bodies suffer damage at the very core of our beings–DNA damage in the cells–from oxygen in the air we breathe, the foods we eat, even within our bodies themselves. And SOD–superoxide dismutase–can help to repair this damage before it can cause anything from wrinkles to cancer. Now that’s an antioxidant worth talking about!
The body naturally forms a defensive compound superoxide as part of the immune system. Its purpose is to help fight off microorganisms through oxygenation. Superoxide, however helpful to the body in fighting off foreign invaders, is highly toxic to the body it is defending. Thus, the body has to create an antidote of sorts to its own domestic poison. That antidote is SOD. Superoxide dismutase works by mutating the harmful superoxide into harmless oxygen and peroxide. The peroxide is flushed from the body, while the oxygen is returned to the cells.
There are three types of superoxide dismutase–SOD1, SOD2, and SOD3. Studies in the 1990s showed a lack of or mutation in SOD1 production has been linked to ALS–Lou Gehrig’s Disease–a form of muscular dystrophy. Other studies have linked a decrease in the production of SOD3 with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease–COPD–a lung disease that effects many the elderly; especially those who have smoked.
Therefore, superoxide dismutase is one antioxidant that the body cannot live without. Lab rats born without SOD2-creating abilities die within a few days–horribly suffering from all sorts of oxidative cellular damage and showing signs of rapid aging. As we’ve already discussed, several serious and deadly diseases have been linked to low levels of superoxide dismutase. It’s role in disease prevention is vital.
Doctors have ways of knowing just how much, and what kinds, of SOD your body is producing. Using superoxide dismutase assay equipment, they can acquire a rather accurate look at just how much SOD you’ve got, and what you’re doing with it. Lower levels can be countered through the use of supplements, or through diet. While SOD is easily damaged by stomach acid, some foods high in the elements from which superoxide dismutase are formed–zinc, copper, and manganese–can help with SOD production by providing the right building blocks. Other antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and beta carotene can also help with SOD levels by simply doing their bit to fight free radicals and not leaving it all up to lil ol’ superoxide dismutase to carry the load.