Antioxidants Explained Simply
What is an antioxidant?
To put it simply, antioxidants are molecules which are able to prevent the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation of other molecules are usually caused by the presence of free radicals in our body.
What is a free radical?
In chemistry, for a molecule to be electronically balanced, it must have a proton and an electron. That represents a balanced molecule. However, due to stress and destruction, a molecule may lose an electron, and as a result, become a free radical.
What is so dangerous about free radicals?
As a free radical is an unbalanced molecule, it will try its best to steal an electron from a nearby molecule to stabilize itself. As a result, a reduction-oxidation reaction occurs, and even though the free radical is balanced, another free radical is created, as it has lost its own electron.
Hence, this will cause a chain of redox reactions where electros are stolen and transferred to nearby molecules. This is how free radicals cause chemical reactions and thus damage our body cells.
As more damages are done to our body cells, our body immune system will be weakened due to more free radical attacks, and hence cause our body to be susceptible to illnesses and diseases.
How do we get free radicals?
Free radicals are present in our bodies from different sources. They can be produced due to stress in our lifestyle and workload we have. Another main source of free radicals are produced externally like air pollution, where clean air is absent. Smoking, or being a passive smoker will also cause free radicals to be present in your body.
What do antioxidants do?
As stated, antioxidants are molecules which can prevent the oxidation of another molecule. As a chain reaction is created by a series of reduction-oxidation processes, there are multiple transfers of elections between molecules.
Hence, the role of antioxidants is to provide an additional electron to the molecule which is in need of an electron to be stable. The strong benefit of the antioxidant is that they are able to provide other molecules an electron, without them losing an electron and become unbalanced.
By providing an electron to the unstabilized molecule, the chain reaction will stop, and hence cease the series of reduction-oxidation process. This will also prevent any further damage of our body cells.
Daily intake of antioxidants will keep you healthy
Antioxidants are nutrition supplements which will keep you healthy if you take them daily. Antioxidants are not medicine which are able to fight diseases and cure illnesses. As stated, their role in keeping your body healthy, is to prevent attack of free radicals that damages your body cells.
As we are always exposed to different sources of free radicals everyday, it is important that you have sufficient daily intake of antioxidants every day too, to counter the damage done to your cells. This will also keep your body healthy and reduces any risk of contracting illnesses and diseases.
And that is how antioxidants keep you healthy.