What is an antioxidant? Function, Benefits, and Examples

What is an antioxidant?

What is an antioxidant?Antioxidants are molecules that prevent the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction in which electrons are lost. In living things, this process can be harmful, causing a breakdown of organic molecules.

One challenge of life on Earth is that oxygen makes it a great electron acceptor, which makes chemical reactions such as cellular respiration possible, making it highly reactive in potentially harmful ways.

Oxygen “loves” to take electrons from other molecules. Our cells use “hunger” to “feed” the oxygen molecules in which we breathe, which conducts the process of cellular respiration.

However, if oxygen or volatile oxygen compounds loosen within our cells, they take electrons from molecules that are believed to easily carry electrons that are trying to get rid of our cells Huh.

Some cellular processes produce hazardous oxygen compounds such as hydrogen peroxide – H2O2 – as a side effect of other biological processes. These oxygen compounds are sometimes referred to by scientists as “reactive oxygen species”, or abbreviated as “ROS”.

Oxygen is not the only oxidizer in the chemical world – any molecule that takes electrons from other molecules is called an “oxidizer“. But the word “oxidizer” comes from the name of oxygen atom because oxygen is the most ferocious oxidizer found in the most natural world.

When molecules within cells lose an electron in an oxidizing compound, it can initiate a chain reaction; The molecule that lost its electron can now itself become an oxidizer. It now wants “one more”, and can take it from a “weaker” molecule, in turn, oxidizing that one.

The image below uses an example of electrons taking fluorine from two hydrogen atoms – taking electrons from another molecule, leaving the hydrogen atoms “hungry”. Fluorine is an even greater oxidizer than oxygen – but fortunately for us, it is not often found in the natural world!

To protect themselves from oxidizing compounds, living cells make antioxidants whose job is to work together to prevent oxidative damage to important cellular molecules such as DNA. Some of these activities eject and destroy oxidizing compounds, while others block or inhibit oxidation reactions or even repair molecules damaged by oxidation.

Antioxidants” today are most commonly used to refer to some of those compounds – specifically for antioxidants that can be ingested in food, which many health gurus claim will enhance health and the aging process. Will delay

Less commonly, “antioxidants” can refer to compounds used industrially to prevent oxidative damage to food, equipment, and other man-made goods.

What is an antioxidant? Function, Benefits, and Examples

Function of antioxidants

Within cells, antioxidants act to protect important molecules, such as DNA, from oxidized molecules that may be visible inside cells. They can accomplish this in several ways:

  • Binding oxidizer. Some antioxidants bind to oxidizing molecules, preventing them from interacting with other, weaker molecules. Some of these can also carry heavy metals such as oxidizers out of the body through the blood and kidneys.
  • Causing weak molecules. Some antioxidants are associated with the most important molecules – such as DNA – and serve as “buffers”, which prevent oxidizing molecules from reaching the DNA.
  • Repair or reinstall. Some antioxidants repair oxidative damage: they can carry an “extra” electron or hydrogen atom, which can be donated to molecules that have been lost to oxidation reactions.
  • Damage control. Although this may not sound very “protective”, cells that are severely damaged by oxidation can become cancerous. In this way, these damage controllers protect the entire organism.
What is an antioxidant? Function, Benefits, and Examples

Benefits of Antioxidants

There is some controversy as to whether people are healthy by eating antioxidants.

It has long been known that people who eat a diet high in antioxidants are healthier than those who do not. However, foods that are high in antioxidants – such as berries, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, and fish – are in many ways healthy for the body.

These foods are low in sugar and saturated fat, which are major contributors to many common and serious diseases. They are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, and unsaturated fats – all of which serve to promote health throughout the body, and are lacking in most modern diets.

So do these foods have antioxidants that are responsible for the good health of those who eat them?

The results so far have clearly shown that taking an antioxidant pill or supplement cannot replace the good health effects of eating a healthy diet that is high in antioxidants.

Scientists cautioned against the dangers of people taking antibiotic supplements instead of a healthy diet. Those who take vitamin A, C, and E supplements alone are not found to be healthier than those who do not; And the 0ne study found that taking large doses of vitamin A may be more useful for cancer cells than healthy cells.

Many scientists agree that more testing is needed to determine the long-term effects of antioxidants alone. But they also believe that eating a low-fat, low-sugar diet that is high in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals is better for your health than any pill or supplement.

Examples of Antioxidants

What is an antioxidant? Function, Benefits, and Examples


Glutathione is an antioxidant that can “donate” oxidized molecules to an electron and a hydrogen atom. This allows oxidizers to stop in their tracks by “feeding” their need for an electron – and to repair molecules damaged by oxidation, by returning the electron they lost.

CoQ10 (ubiquinone)

If you recognize the name “Obikinone” with a good job! This antioxidant is an important component of the electron transport chain of mitochondria, which makes cellular respiration possible.

Since ubiquinone is very good at accepting and donating electrons, it is believed to fight oxidation – either by donating electrons to the oxidizer, thereby neutralizing them, or regenerating them. By donating electrons to other antioxidants.

Carotenoids (Vitamin A)

Carotenoids are yellow and orange in color found in plants, including vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes. Scientists have genetically engineered an orange-haired species of “golden rice”, which helps people avoid severe carotenoids in nutrient-poor environments.

Caratinoid is believed to break the “chain reaction” of oxidation by donating electrons to oxidized species. Although Caretenoids itself is oxidized, it is stable in its oxidized form, so it does not harm any other molecules. The “chain reaction” of oxidation then stops there rather than being passed on to other molecules, which can continue to pass with damage.

Like ubiquinone, a carotenoid called vitamin A serves more than one purpose in the body. In addition to being an antioxidant, vitamin A plays an important role in our cone cells, which makes night vision possible. Severe vitamin A deficiency blindness was an inspiration behind the development of golden rice by scientists.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can act as an antioxidant in two ways. It can directly interact with reactive oxygen species to inactivate them; Or it can donate an electron to regenerate vitamin E, another important antioxidant species.

Like so many other antioxidants, vitamin C serves more than one purpose in the body. In addition to acting as an antioxidant, it is essential for the formation of collagen – the protein that gives your skin, bones, and muscles their elastic strength.

What is an antioxidant? Function, Benefits, and Examples

Vitamin C deficiency in previous centuries – named “scurvy”, when people did not know about vitamins, manifests as extreme problems with connective tissues. In this extreme absence of vitamin C, a victim’s teeth may also fall due to the collagen erosion that was holding them down!


What is an antioxidant? Function, Benefits, and Examples

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