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Genes Nutr. 2009 Sep;4(3):161-3. doi: 10.1007/s12263-009-0131-8. Epub 2009 Jul 16.

Commentary: oxidative stress reconsidered.

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German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, 14558, Nuthetal, Germany,


All definitions of the terms 'oxidative stress' and 'antioxidants' implicate that oxidants are just damaging. However, there is increasing evidence that reactive oxygen species (ROS) are not only toxic but that we need them for healthy life. This change in paradigm has been discussed at the third international symposium on 'Nutrition, oxygen biology and medicine-micronutrients, exercise, energy and aging disorders', of the Society for Free Radical Research France and the Oxygen Club of California on April 8-10, 2009 in Paris. The beneficial effect of a low to moderate concentration of oxidants produced during exercise was taken as most discussed example. In this case, ROS are required for normal force production in skeletal muscle, for the development of training-induced adaptation in endurance performance, as well as for the induction of endogenous defense systems. Taking antioxidants during training prevents adaptation. Although substantial progress on the understanding of the physiological functions of ROS was communicated at the meeting, it remained obvious that a lot of work is needed to fully understand the conditions and individual situations under which ROS are beneficial or detrimental.

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