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Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) is an enzyme that repairs cells and reduces the damage done to them by superoxide, the most common free radical in the body. SOD is found in both the dermis and the epidermis, and is key to the production of healthy fibroblasts (skin-building cells).
Studies have shown that SOD acts as both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory in the body, neutralising the free radicals that can lead to wrinkles and precancerous cell changes. Researchers are currently studying the potential of superoxide dismutase as an anti-aging treatment, since it is now known that SOD levels drop while free radical levels increase as we age.
Superoxide Dismutase helps the body use zinc, copper, and manganese. There are two types of SOD: copper/zinc (Cu/Zn) SOD and manganese (Mn) SOD. Each type of SOD plays a different role in keeping cells healthy. Cu/Zn SOD protects the cells' cytoplasm, and Mn SOD protects their mitochondria from free radical damage.
Abnormalities in the copper- and zinc-dependent superoxide dismutase gene may contribute to the development of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, in some people. ALS is a fatal disease that causes deterioration of motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It has been theorised that low levels of superoxide dismutase in those with ALS leaves nerve cells unprotected from the free radicals that can kill them, so researchers have been studying the effect of vitamin E and other antioxidant supplements on the progression of this disease. It was hoped that regular doses of antioxidants could make up for the lack of SOD and help neutralise free radicals. Initial studies were promising, and indicated that vitamin E supplementation could potentially slow the progression of ALS, with some researchers claiming that the risk of death from ALS was as much as 62 per cent lower in regular vitamin E users compared to nonusers.
Superoxide Dismutase has also been used to treat arthritis, prostate problems, corneal ulcers, burn injuries, inflammatory diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, and long-term damage from exposure to smoke and radiation, and to prevent side effects of cancer drugs. In its topical form, it may help to reduce facial wrinkles, scar tissue, heal wounds and burns, lighten dark or hyperpigmentation, and protect against harmful UV rays.
SOD is found in barley grass, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, wheatgrass, and most green plants. The body needs plenty of vitamin C and copper to make this natural antioxidant, so be sure to get enough of these substances in your diet as well. SOD is also available by injection, sub-lingual oral supplements, enteric-coated pills, and topical creams. However, keep in mind that this substance must be absorbed in the small intestines, so it is important to choose oral supplements that are either enteric-coated or sub-lingual in order to bypass the stomach acid that destroys SOD before it can be absorbed by the body.
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