The Antioxidant Definition

The antioxidant definition is simple – yet complex. There is more to it than meets the eye.

The technical definition: n. a chemical or substance that inhibits oxidation.

There are many different types of antioxidants, which can be broadly classified into three groups; enzymes, vitamins, and phytonutirents.

“Anti”=against, “oxidant”=oxidation.

You could have come to the same conclusion, logically. But does that tell you anything about what an antioxidant really is, what it does?

Considering how important antioxidants are for your health, it is vital to know the facts. Especially since marketers will add this catchy word to their product label – just to catch your attention and make a quick buck!

"There are so many different kinds of antioxidants - at least 4000 flavanoids alone - that it's easy to get the idea that experts toss the word around carelessly.

How can a chemical called anthocyanin, found in abundance in berries, be considered the same things as, let's say, alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant chemical the body creates all on its own? How can it be that just a few vitamins and minerals act as antioxidants, but not all of them do?

Great questions! The answer is that these wide varieties of compounds don't have much in common in terms of their chemical makeup. What puts them all under the enormous antioxidant umbrella is what they do, not what they are.

While each compound may accomplish the job in different ways, any substance called an antioxidant has been shown to minimize the effect of those highly reactive free radicals created by the stress, pollution, aging and illness."

- Keri Glassman (MS, RD, CDN), The O2 Diet: The Cutting Edge Antioxidant-Based Program That Will Make You Healthy, Thin, and Beautiful

Explore the links in the right column for an understanding of the antioxidant definition and free radicals. Also see the following books:

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Explore This Section:

• Understanding Free Radicals and Antioxidants

• How do Antioxidants Work?

• Antioxidant Facts

• Antioxidant Therapy


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