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Oxidative stress

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Oxidative stress

Oxidative stress (OS) is a phenomenon or physiological state caused by the imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. Free radicals, all called reactive oxygen species (ROS) or reactive oxygen metabolites (ROM) are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons, allowing them to easily react with other molecules. ROS are constantly produced by mitochondria in your cells as part of the physiological processes to produce energy and some pathological conditions. They can play, and in fact they do play, several physiological roles (i.e., cell signaling). Several biological functions, such as like protein phosphorylation, apoptosis, immunity, and differentiation, are all dependent on a proper and low level of ROS. However, ROS production can be greatly increased by environmental stressors (UV, ionizing radiations, pollutants, and heavy metals) and xenobiotics (antiblastic drugs). ROS are detoxified by antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids, and polyphenols from your foods or supplements. Excessive production of ROS and/or insufficient intake or detoxifying antioxidants cause the imbalance and. Excessive ROS are harmful to your body because they damage your cell’s DNA, proteins, and lipids, causing cell and tissue damage. Oxidative stress is one of the most important underlying causes of aging and aging-related diseases.

What is ROM?

Reactive metabolites (ROM), reactive oxygen species (ROS), or sometimes simply called oxidants, comprise a number of oxygen-containing molecules such as superoxide radicals (O2•−), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), hydroxyl radicals (•OH), and singlet oxygen (1O2). ROS are natural byproducts of oxygen metabolism in the mitochondria. At low concentrations, ROS help fight pathogens and synthesize cellular structures. ROS can play an important role in some cell signaling pathways. When ROS production is too high, they can cause severe damages to DNA, RNA, lipids, and especially proteins and cell membrane. A large body of evidence shows that oxidative stress can be responsible, with different degrees of importance, for the onset and/or progression of many diseases (i.e., cancer, diabetes, metabolic disorders, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular diseases). It is widely known that large amounts of oxidants accelerate aging. However, a recent study has shown that oxidants may have some positive functions such as slowing down cell aging, raising the possibility that some oxidants, at adequate levels, may play a role in health and longevity. Various individual ROS can be measured by laboratory test. The ROM test measures all reactive oxygen metabolites and is therefore a great assessment for the overall status for oxidative stress.

What are the risk factors for high ROM?

Causes of high ROM
  • High fat and sugar diet.
  • Alcohol.
  • Chronic inflammation.
  • Smoking.
  • UV.
  • Ionizing radiation.
  • Pollutants.
  • Heavy metals.

Intervention tips

How to lower oxidative stress
  • Healthy diet: low fat and sugar.
  • Eat a diet rich in antioxidants.
  • Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting.
  • Exercise.
  • Avoid environmental stress.
  • Supplements can increase enzymes with ROM-neutralizing functions: resveratrol, turmeric, green tea, grapeseed, cocoa, chokeberry.
  • Antioxidant supplements: vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione, and more.

Further reading

  1. Pizzino, G., Irrera, N., Cucinotta, M., Pallio, G., Mannino, F., Arcoraci, V., Squadrito, F., Altavilla, D., & Bitto, A. (2017). Oxidative Stress: Harms and Benefits for Human Health. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2017, 8416763.
  2. Saha, S. K., Lee, S. B., Won, J., Choi, H. Y., Kim, K., Yang, G. M., Dayem, A. A., & Cho, S. G. (2017). Correlation between Oxidative Stress, Nutrition, and Cancer Initiation. International journal of molecular sciences, 18(7), 1544.
  3. Uttara, B., Singh, A. V., Zamboni, P., & Mahajan, R. T. (2009). Oxidative stress and neurodegenerative diseases: a review of upstream and downstream antioxidant therapeutic options. Current neuropharmacology, 7(1), 65–74.
  4. Masaki, N., Sato, A., Horii, S., Kimura, T., Toya, T., Yasuda, R., Namba, T., Yada, H., Kawamura, A., & Adachi, T. (2016). Usefulness of the d-ROMs test for prediction of cardiovascular events. International journal of cardiology, 222, 226–232.
  5. Oxidants can slow down the cell ageing. (2020). Retrieved 24 November 2020, from
  6. Peroxiredoxin promotes longevity and H2O2-resistance in yeast through redox-modulation of protein kinase A. (2020). Retrieved 24 November 2020, from
  7. Natural Remedies for Fighting Oxidative Stress. (2020). Retrieved 24 November 2020, from
  8. Antioxidants Explained in Simple Terms. (2020). Retrieved 24 November 2020, from
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