Oxidation is a chemical reaction within the body that produces free radicals, unstable organic molecules responsible for tissue damage, aging and disease states. Antioxidants protect cells by inhibiting the action of free radicals, and are widely used in dietary supplements to support heart health, prevent cancer, keep the body free of disease and counteract the effects of aging.
Many different compounds and substances have antioxidant activity, including vitamins, herbs, polyphenols and fruit and vegetable extracts. The most commonly used antioxidants include vitamins C, A and E; carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lutein; minerals, including selenium; and bioflavonoids, including quercetin, rutin and catechin. Many of these ingredients are derived from antioxidant-rich foods, including green tea, grape skins, blueberries, pomegranates, even chocolate. Direct antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, work immediately against free radicals, while indirect antioxidants, such as polyphenols, fuel the body’s own antioxidant production. Research has determined that multiple indirect antioxidants have a stronger protective effect than high doses of single antioxidants, so blended supplements which combine multiple antioxidant sources have the greatest protective effect.