Antioxidants include the Vitamins A,C
and E, and yellow-coloured carotenoids, such as beta-carotene.
Antioxidants help to counter the detrimental effects of oxygen free
radicals which form naturally during normal metabolism, and by
external factors such as x-rays, ultra-violet radiation and
pollution. Oxygen free radicals have been implicated in the
development of several diseases including cancer and heart disease,
highlighting the need to consider antioxidant levels as part of
Where can antioxidants be found?
There are a number of naturally occurring substances
in food, such as vitamins and phenolic compounds which are large
molecules comprised of a number of ring structures which have
antioxidant properties. It is also possible to purchase antioxidant
vitamin supplement tablets.
What are the benefits of antioxidants?
Recent research suggests that the risk of cancer and
heart disease may be lowered in people who consume 5-7 serves of
antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables.
It has been proposed that diets high in antioxidant
rich foods, offer significant protection against general
degenerative disease associated with aging.
More research is needed however, to
substantiate this further. At present it appears that a wide mix of
antioxidants obtained from plant foods work more effectively in the
body that single supplements.
What more do we need to know?
More information is needed concerning the effect of
antioxidants in foods. More is also needed to be known about the
distribution and function of antioxidants in cells in the body.
There have been some recent studies which have failed
to find significant improvements in health with increased intake of