What Are Antioxidants?
We come across the word ‘antioxidant’ more and more. But what are antioxidants and what is their function? is it beneficial to use antioxidant nutritional supplements or not? The name antioxidant literally means ‘against oxidation’ and that is exactly what antioxidants are: substances that prevent oxidation.
One form of oxidation is, for example, rust formation, in which oxygen reacts with metal ( iron ), causing rust. Because oxygen plays a role in many forms of oxidation, the term oxidation is the Latin word oxygenium, which means oxygen. However, the oxidation process does not always have to be accompanied by oxygen. There are also other forms of oxidation.
Oxidation can also take place in our body and in foodstuffs. Oxidation can affect the quality of food products. That is why antioxidants are added to food (and for example cosmetics).
In addition, the oxidation that takes place in our body can (over time) be harmful to our health, because cells and tissue are affected. In other words, we need antioxidants to fight oxidation in our body and in foods.
An antioxidant neutralizes so-called free radicals that cause oxidation. In our body, these free radicals can arise during various physical processes. In addition, free radicals can also enter our body because we smoke or sit in the sun for too long. What are free radicals and why do we need antioxidants to fight them?
Free radicals are very aggressive substances that cause the above-mentioned oxidation. They do this by destroying orphaned cells and cells in our body. If not done about this, the free radicals can eventually cause people to contract cancer or cardiovascular disease.
Of course, there is a more chemical explanation about free radicals and their role in our body, but for now it is enough to know that they do not have a good effect on our health and that we therefore need antioxidants.
Antioxidants in food
In our daily diet there are generally sufficient antioxidants. They are for example in vegetables, fruit and nuts. What we count as antioxidants are the following vitamins :
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E.
Certain trace elements (or trace elements) are also antioxidants. Trace elements are elements in the nutrition of organisms, such as humans, animals and plants that ensure proper functioning and growth.
In addition, there are also bioactive substances called antioxidants, including:
- Beta-carotene is found in green vegetables and fruits.
- Flavonoids are naturally present in plant foods and add color to many fruits and vegetables.
Antioxidants as a supplement
Most people get enough antioxidants through a healthy diet. So if you eat a varied diet and get enough fruit and vegetables (and nuts), you will not need any supplementation in the form of nutritional supplements. However, in case of a lack of antioxidants, it is possible to use antioxidants as a supplement.