Catalase is a common enzyme, found in nearly all living organisms. It catalyses hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen and protects organisms from free radicals It also has industrial uses to prevent certain contaminants in food and as a disinfectant for contact lenses and a cleansing agent in some other products.
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Catalase is a naturally-occurring enzyme that reduces hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen.
Oxygen is crucial to life; however, when we use oxygen our bodies constantly produce free radicals. Free radicals are chemically unstable molecules or atoms. They also make other molecules or atoms in the body very unstable, thus damaging proteins, cell membranes, and even DNA structure. This is a process which can lead to permanent damage to cells and tissues resulting in infection, mental decline, depressed immunity system, joint disease, and heart disease. Free radicals are also considered to play an important role in the aging process.
Catalase is constantly in battle against the effect of free radicals to the body. It transforms harmful superoxide radicals into hydrogen peroxide which later breaks down into water and oxygen.
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Catalase test is extensively used by microbiologists in the laboratory to recognize and differentiate between bacterial species. Sometimes, catalase test is combined with other tests such as antibiotic resistance test while it cannot identify a specific organism alone, however, catalase test remains an important tool in biological experiments.
Recent scientific studies indicate that low catalase levels could be a factor in the graying process of human hair. Hydrogen peroxide is produced naturally in human body. It is a strong oxidizing and bleaching agent. Catalase breaks down hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. However, when there is a drop in catalase levels, hydrogen peroxide cannot be decomposed. The hydrogen peroxide accumulation bleaches the hair inside out.
Catalase is widely used in the food industry. Catalase removes hydrogen peroxide from milk thus it aids in cheese production. Catalase prevents food from oxidizing, therefore it can be used in food wrapping.
Catalase is sometimes used to disinfect contact lenses. Nowadays, catalase is used in the aesthetics industry in several mask treatments because it help increase cellular oxygenation in the upper layers of epidermis.