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Free Radicals Are Normally Involved in Energy Metabolism While Excessive and Uncontrolled Free Radicals Are Harmful to Health
Physics of energy storage in the ecosystem
Energy is required for cells to perform many fundamental tasks: to drive biochemical reactions that would not occur automatically; to transport needed materials across membranes; and to carry out mechanical work, such as moving muscles. Fat, proteins and carbohydrates are the actual energy storages in the living systems. More concisely, the energy storage is a conjugated system between organic compounds and oxygen molecules. Photosynthesis in plants stores solar energy by making organic compounds from carbon dioxide and water, releasing oxygen gas. One of the physical consequences in the plant photosynthesis is that the electrons are relocated from the space of more positive electronic potential near oxygen to the space of less positive electronic potential near carbon or hydrogen. The potential energy of electrons are therefore elevated. The electron transfer process requires the involvement of free radicals - chemical species of unpaired electrons.
ATP as the essential energy transfer vehicle in living systems
When energy is needed by the cell, the energy is converted from storage molecules to the energy carrier molecules ATP (adenosine-5’- tri-phosphate). This energy transfer process requires oxygen molecules to oxidize organic nutrients such as carbohydrates, fatty acids, amino acids to generate carbon dioxide, releasing energy that can be utilized in the formation of ATP. ATP molecule contains three phosphate groups, and it is formed by ATP synthase from inorganic phosphate and adenosine diphosphate (ADP). The energy required for the ATP formation comes from either photophosphorylation in the plants, or oxygen-related oxidative reactions during cellular respiration. ATP is a multifunctional nucleotide used in cells as a coenzyme. "Molecular unit of currency" is an often used term for ATP in the intracellular energy transfer. ATP, transporting chemical energy within cells for metabolism, is used by enzymes and structural proteins in many cellular processes, including biosynthetic reactions, motility, and cell division. In the metabolic processes that requires ATP, ATP releases energy and is converted back into its precursor ADP. This is a continuously recycling process in living systems. Normal bio-metabolism generates harmful free radical byproducts -
reactive oxygen species (ROS) and causes oxidative stress