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Need of Antioxidants in daily life

Dr. F.T. Z. Jabeen.

Government First Grade College

BH Road, Tumkur – 572102. Karnataka, India.


In our daily life we usually neglect our body.  If we keenly observe our routine then we'll notice that metabolism of our body is ruining day by day.  It is very essential to keep body fit and fine. There are multiple medical treatments available for solving any health related problem.  But we know that precaution is better than cure and that's why we need a product that not only cure health problem but also stops the reoccurrence of these issues. 

Now a day we all are advised by doctors to eat foods that are rich in antioxidants.   An obvious question that arises is what are antioxidants?    Antioxidants are some nature based products that are just perfect for resolving all the problems; they are a combination of vitamins and minerals.  Chemically, antioxidants are molecules which are capable of slowing or preventing the oxidation in our body which create free radicals that damage the body cells.   

Free radicals: Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules.  As they are electrically charged molecules, i.e., they have an unpaired electron, which causes them to seek out and capture electrons from other substances in order to neutralize themselves.  Although the initial attack causes the free radical to become neutralized, another free radical is formed in the process, causing  a chain reaction to occur. And until subsequent free radicals are  deactivated, thousands of free radical reactions can occur within  seconds of the initial reaction.     The danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs. These free radicals take over the reproductive properties of the cell and thus reproduce rapidly.

Mechanism  by which free radicals cause damage and disease:  Free radicals contribute to many different diseases. Chemically, a substance is oxidized when electrons are removed or reduced and when electrons are added. All chemical reactions involve the transfer of electrons.  The body generates energy by gradually oxidizing its food in a controlled manner and storing it in the form of chemical potential energy, called ATP. 

The oxidation of foodstuffs is like a controlled fire which liberates energy but can also let sparks fly, giving rise to potential damage. The sparks in this analogy are free electrons escaping the transport system. These unpaired electrons readily form free radical molecules which are chemically reactive and highly unstable.   It is these free radical molecules which rapidly react with other molecules, setting off a chain reaction of free radical formation, somewhat similar to an atomic explosion. So now we have this molecule which is missing an electron and is dying to get its hands on an electron to help fill its need. This free radical now goes and steals an electron from another molecule that is more willing to give one up and thus it becomes satisfied, but now the victim molecule has become a free radical! This goes on for quite some time. We therefore call this process the chain reaction of free radicals.

Cell membranes are made of unsaturated lipids.  The unsaturated lipid molecules of cell membranes are particularly susceptible to this damaging free radicals process and readily contribute to the uncontrolled chain reaction, this can lead to a breakdown or even hardening of lipids, which makeup all cell walls.  If the cell wall is hardened then it becomes impossible for the cell to properly get its nutrients, get signals from other cells to perform an action (such as firing of a neuron) and many other cellular activities can be affected.  In addition to the cell walls, other biological molecules are also susceptible to damage, including RNA, DNA and protein enzymes.

The primary site of free radical damage is the DNA found in the mitochondria, which are the "energy factory" of the cell. Every cell contains an enormous set of molecules called DNA which provide chemical instructions for a cell to function and serves as the "command center" of the cell, as well as in the mitochondria.  Normally the cell automatically fixes much of the damage done to nuclear DNA.  However, the DNA in the mitochondria cannot be readily fixed.

Therefore, extensive DNA damage accumulates over time and shuts down mitochondria, this free radical generation process can disrupt all levels of cell function. causing the cells to die and the organism to age (Cancer Prevention Study Group, 1994).  This is why free radical damage is thought to be such a basic mechanism of tissue injury.  It damages us at the cellular level.

Causes of free radicals: People are commonly faced with environmental pollutants whether through habits like smoking, or daily interactions with smog, air pollutants (toxic chemicals in the environment), stress, a lack of nutrients in our food and  life in general.  These pollutants cause free radicals to build up in the body.  Free radicals collect in the body as a reaction to these pollutants and begin to quickly destroy the cell walls and the genetic structure of the cell.   It is also clear that environmental agents initiate free radical problems. The toxicity of lead, pesticides, cadmium, ionizing radiation, alcohol and cigarette smoke may all be due to their free radical initiating ability.

Antioxidants: Chemically, antioxidants are molecules which are capable of slowing or preventing the oxidation of other molecules in our body.    There are many antioxidants in plants and animals which are responsible for carrying out the body functions efficiently. Some of these are Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Glutathionine and enzymes like Catalase, Peroxides and Superoxide dismutase.

Antioxidants are often described as “mopping up” free radicals, meaning they neutralize the electrical charge and prevent the free radical from taking electrons from other molecules.

role of antioxidant: Antioxidants are capable of stabilizing,  or deactivating, free radicals before they attack cells  and provide a better vision towards health, that can activate the body and regenerates energy in it so that all the toxins of the body can get diluted and fresh oxygen can recharge the body.    Thus, these scavenger substances are capable to reduce its effect and protect the body from heavy damage.  Hence they are absolutely critical for maintaining optimal cellular and systemic  health and well-being.

Types of antioxidant: Antioxidant are classified into two broad division depending on whether they are soluble in water hydrophillic.  In general water soluble antioxidant reacts with oxidant in the cell cytosol and the blood plasma, while lipid soluble antioxidant protect cell membrane from lipid peroxidation these compound may be synthesized in the body or obtained from the diet. The different antioxidant are present at a wide range of concentration in body fluids and tissues with some such as gluthione or ubiquinone mostly present within cells while others such as uric acid are more evenly distributed some antioxidant are only found in a few organism and these compound can we important in pathogens can be important in pathogens and can be  virulence factors.

  1.  Dietary antioxidants:  Vitamin C, vitamin A and beta carotene are among the most widely studied dietary antioxidant vitamin C is considered the most important water soluble antioxidant in extra cellular fluids. It in capable of neturalizing ROS in the aqueous phase before lipid peroxidation is initiated. Vitamin E a major lipid soluble antioxidant. In the most effective chain breaking antioxidant within the cell membrane where it protects membrane fatty acids from lipid per oxidation. Vitamin C has been cited as being capable of regenerating vitamin E. (Sies. H et. al 1992).

Beta carotene and other carotenoids are also believed to provide antioxidant projection to lipid rich tissues. Research suggests beta carotene may work synergistically with vitamin E, fruits and vegetables are major sources of vitamin C and carotenoids. While whole grains and high quality properly extracted and protected vegetable also are major sources of vitamin E (Sies H and Jacob R.A et al., 1995).

Phytonutrients: A number of other dietary antioxidant substances exist beyond the  traditional vitamins discussed above. Many plant-derived substances, collectively termed “phytonutrients,” or “phytochemicals,” are  becoming increasingly known for their antioxidant activity. Phenolic  compounds such as flavonoids are ubiquitous within the plant  kingdom: approximately 3,000 flavonoid substances have been  described (Briviba, k. and Sies,1994).  In plants, flavonoids serve as protectors against a wide variety of environmental stresses while, in humans, flavonoids  appear to function as “biological response modifiers.”  Flavonoids have been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic, anti-viral, anti-aging, and anti-carcinogenic activity (Cody,V.Middleton, E.and Harborne; Middleton, E. 1984).

The broad therapeutic effects of flavonoids can be largely attributed to their antioxidant properties. In addition to an antioxidant effect,flavonoid compounds may exert protection against heart disease throughthe inhibition of cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase activities in plateletsand macrophages (Havesteen, P., 1983).The best way to ensure an adequate intake of phytonutrients is toeat a diet rich in a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.Phytonutrient supplements are also now widely available (Middleton E 1986).

  1. Endogenous antioxidants: In addition to dietary antioxidants, the body relies on several endogenous defense mechanisms to helps protect against free radical induced cell damage. The antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase, catalase, and superoxide dismutase SOD metabolize oxidative toxic intermediates and require micro nutrient cofactors such as selenium iron, copper zinc and manganese for optimum catalytic activity research indicates that consumption and absorption of these important trace minerals may decrease with aging (Duthie,G.G.,and Brown,K.M.,1994).

Glutalhione directly qunches ROS such as lipid peroxides and also plays a major role in xenobiotic metabolism. Research suggests that gutathione and vitamin C work interactively to quench free radicals and that they have a sparing effect upon each other. Lipoic acid, yet another important endogenous antioxidant, categories as a thiol or biothiol lipoic acid and its reduced form dihydrolipoic acid DHLA are capable of quenching free radicals in both lipid and aqueous domains and as such has been called a universal antioxidant liopic acid may also exert its antioxidant effect by chelating with pro oxidant metals. Research further suggests that lipoic acid has a sparing effect on other antioxidants. Animal studies have demonstrated supplemental lipoic acid to protect against the symptoms of vitamin E supplemental lipoic acid to protect against the symptoms of vitamin E and vitamin C deficiency. (Duthie. G.G et al., Packer L et.al kagen V.E et al., 1994).

B.Sources of antioxidants: Antioxidants are naturally present in many foods.  Fruits and vegetables are packed with natural antioxidants as they contain a number of vitamins and minerals and should be an important part of one's diet.  They are better choices than fried and oily food or packaged foods.  Just because something is good in one dose, doesn’t mean it will be twice as good if we take two doses.

  1. Uric acid: Uric acid is the highest concentration antioxidant in human blood. Uric acid is an antioxidant oxypurine produced from xanthine by the enzyme xanthine oxidace and is likewise uric acid has the highest concentration of any blood antioxidant and provides over half of the total antioxidant capacity of human serum uric acids antioxidant activities are also compels given that it does not react with some oxidant such as superoxide but does act against peroxynitrite.

In animal studies that investigate diseases facilitated by oxidative stress introduction of uric acid both prevents the disease or reduces it leading researches to propose this is due to uric acids antioxidant properties studies of uric acids antioxidant mechanism support this proposal.

  1. Glutathione: Glutathione is cysteine containing peptide found in most forms of aerobic life it is not required in the diet and is instead synthesized in cells from its constituent amino acid glutathione has antioxidant properties since the thiol group in its cysteinmoiety is a reducing agent can be reversibly oxidized and reduced. Thegluathione ascorbate cycle gluthione peroxidase and glutaredoxins as well as reacting directing with oxidants due to its high concentration  and its central role is maintaining the cells redox state glutathione is one of the most important cellular antioxidant.
  2. Melatonin:  Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant, Melatonin easily crosses cell membranes and the blood-brain barrier, it does not undergo redox cycling, which is the ability of a molecule to undergo repeated reduction and oxidation.  Melatonin, once oxidized, cannot be reduced to its former state because it forms several stable end products upon reacting with free radicals. Therefore it has been referred to as terminal antioxidant.
  3. Antioxidant enzymes: enzymes are type of antioxidant that come from the protein and minerals we eat as part of our daily diet.  These enzymes are synthesized in the human body and include superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, redustase.  In order for antioxidant enzymes to provide optemium antioxidant activity they require co-factor such as iron, copper, selenium, Mg and zinc.  As with the chemical antioxidant cells are protected against oxidative stress by interacting network of antioxidant.
  • Superoxide dismutase: Superoxide dismutase are class of closely related enzymes that catalyze the breakdown of the superoxide anion into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide SOD enzymes are present in almost are aerobic cells and in extra cellular fluids
  • care enzymes that catalates the conversion of hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen using either an iron or manganese co-factor.
  1. Antioxidant Vitamins: The human body does not produce antioxidant Vitamins naturally, so it is essential to include dietary sources of them in our daily intake of food, be it through foods or supplements.  Common antioxidant vitamins include vitamins A, C, E folic acid and beta carotene.


  1. Vitamin A: Is found in three main forms: Retinol (Vitamin A1), 3,4-didehydroretinol (Vitamin A2), and 3-hydroxy-retinol (Vitamin A3).  Foods rich in vitamin A include liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, egg yolks, and mozzarella cheese. Vitamin A is particularly important for improving the immune system, eye health, tissue repair, and cholesterol levels. Vitamin A and the provitamin A carotenoid, beta carotene, help protect you from free radicals.   Milk and eggs also contain vitamin A. beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in our body, is highest in orange and yellow vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, tomato products and some vegetable oils.  A sweet potato provides 561 percent of our daily needs for vitamin A.
  2. Beta carotene: Beta carotene is a powerful carotenoid (which is a type of phytochemical) that is considered to offer the best protection against singlet oxygen and free radicals.  This vitamin is most commonly found in orange colored vegetables like carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes and dark green vegetables like spinach, kale and collards.
  3. Vitamin C: is also called ascorbic acid, and can be found in high abundance in many fruits and vegetables and is also found in cereals, beef, poultry, Grapefruit, kale, honeydew, mangoes, kiwi, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Berries, cauliflower, nectarines, cantaloupe, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, orange, papaya, tomatoes, strawberries, and sweet potato and fish.  Vitamin C helps to protect the skin from UV damage, promotes better iron absorption, provides greater resistance to infections and helps to regulate blood cholesterol. The antioxidant vitamin C is able to regenerate other any oxidants within the body, helping to guard against even more free radical damage.  Protein metabolism and wound healing are other roles of vitamin C based on daily values, adults and children older than 4 need 60 milligrams of vitamin C per day. Vitamin C is mostly found in fruits, vegetables and fortified grains.
  4. Vitamin E: Also known as alpha-tocopherol, is found in almonds, in many oils including wheat germ, safflower, corn, and soybean oils, and is also found in mangos, nuts, broccoli, Carrots, Broccoli, mustard chard, and pumpkin, red peppers, mangoes, turnip greens, nuts, papaya, sunflower seeds and spinach, and other foods.  Vitamin E is important for maintaining healthy blood vessels, improving skin conditions, and protecting the body’s membrane.  As a fat soluble vitamin, vitamin E stops the production of reactive oxygen species that form when fat is broken down into energy. Vitamin E intake is also important to maintain a healthy immune system. The FDS recommends adults and children older than 4 consume a daily intake of 30 international units of vitamin E. vegetable oil, nuts and seeds are rich sources of vitamin E. Dark green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals also contain vitamin E. 
  1. Lutein: best known for its association with healthy eyes, is abundant in green, leafy vegetables such as collard greens, spinach,  kale and is also present in eggs.
  2. Lycopene: is a potent antioxidant found in Red fruits such as watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, pink grapefruit, blood oranges, and other foods. and vegetables Tomato products contain a high content of lycopene,     
  3. Selenium:  is a mineral, not an antioxidant nutrient. selenium classified as a trace element, plays a role in reproduction, DNA synthesis and thyroid hormone metabolism.  However, it is a component of antioxidant enzymes.  Plant foods like rice and wheat are the major dietary sources of selenium in most countries. The amount of selenium in soil, which varies by region, determines the amount of selenium in the foods grown in that soil. Animals that eat grains or plants grown in selenium-rich soil have higher levels of selenium in their muscle. Organ meats and sea food are the richest sources of selenium.

benefits of Antioxidants in our Daily Life

  • They work for our weak immune system that can easily repair.
  • Protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and assists keep your immune system healthier.
  • Immune-boosting antioxidants can makes you better able to ward off with some infections like colds, flu and others i.e. they strengthen immune system.
  • Reduces aging (antiaging) process, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart diseases, aid in cardiovascular health and give increased protection against heart attack and stroke; Cancer and  so many skin diseases.
  • They also help to protect the central nervous system,
  • Daily use of these anti agents helps to develop internal strength of body, reenergize the body capable to fight against big diseases like cancer, hypertensions etc. and keeps it fit for life long.
  • Antioxidants therefore play a catalyst's role in rendering good health to a person.


Antioxidant diet: Diet and lifestyle of a person play a key role in his overall health and personality.  Maintaining a balanced diet consisting of all the essential nutrients is very important for the normal growth and development of the body. However, the fast and busy lifestyles these days are responsible for many health disorders.   Specific diet plans are then prescribed to overcome these health hazards and bring back the normal health. Diet helps to reduce or manage certain conditions like diabetes, gout, hypertension, etc. One such diet plan is the antioxidant diet plan. Let us learn in detail about the antioxidant diet.

Diet Plan:  Consuming an antioxidant rich diet on a regular basis can reduce the risks of heart diseases as well as cancer. The key is to combine the above antioxidant sources in a creative way to form a daily diet plan. The plan should consist of variations so that you will be able to follow it for long. Here is a sample antioxidant diet plan. Have a look at it:

Breakfast: Begin your morning with a cereal. Include fresh juicy berries in your cereal which will serve as a tasty delight. You could do with oatmeal and raisins, and a glass of fresh fruit juice or yogurt mixed with fresh blueberries.

Lunch: Red beans or kidney beans are a healthy addition to your tacos, pastas and salads. Include chopped mixed vegetables along with a fruit to complete the meal. If you are a non-vegetarian, you could go for a chicken salad sandwich along with the mixed veggies.

Afternoon Break: Green tea is the perfect afternoon break. It has numerous health benefits and will also freshen you up for the rest of your day.

Dinner: Chicken or beef stir fry along with bell peppers, asparagus and mushrooms. Add spinach to your sandwiches instead of lettuce and do not forget the fruit. You could mix your fruits and yogurt for a sweet and sound good night's sleep.

A good healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruits should be on everybody's to do list if you want to live an optimal healthy lifestyle.   It's important to value your health now when you still have it.  A lot of people only realized how important their health is when it's gone. Supplementation with daily vitamins is your personal life insurance which will help prevent diseases in the future.


The body is constantly barraged with pollutants that cause free radical invasion and increase the risk of cancers and other genetic mutations in our DNA's genetic code,   thus a constant level of antioxidants which need to be part of our daily life in order to reap the antioxidant benefits.  It's always advised to ingest preferably appropriate amounts of antioxidants on a regular basis to protected ourselves against strokes, heart attacks, arthritis, vision problems, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's diseases,  Diabetes  and Obesity.   Eating the rights foods is the best way to boost our natural levels of antioxidants antiaging benefits. The healthier the cells of the body are, the more youthful the skin will look, and the more quickly the body will repair itself from damage and the younger we will feel every day.


  1. Cody, V., Middleton, E. and Harborne, J.B., Plant Flavonoids in Biology and Medicine-Biochemical, Pharmacological, and Structure-activity Relationships, Alan R. Liss, New York, NY, 1986.
  2. Duthie, G.G., and Brown, K.M., Reducing the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, ch 2, p. 19-38, In: Functional Foods, ed. Goldberg, I. Chapman and Hall: New York 1994.
  3. Havsteen, B. flavonoids, a Class of Natural Products of High Pharmacological Potency. Biochem Pharm 1983;32 (7):1141-1148.
  4. Kagen, V.E., et al., Dihydrolipoic Acid–a Universal Antioxidant Both in the Membrane and in the Aqueous Phase. Biochem Pharmacol 1992; 44:1637-1649.
  5.  Middleton, E., “The flavonoids,” Trends in Pharmaceut. Sci., 1984, 5, pp. 335-8.
  6. Sies, H. and Stahl, W., Vitamins E and C, beta carotene, and other carotenoids as antioxidants. Am J Clin Nutr 1995;62 (suppl):1315S-21S.
  7. Sies, H. et al., Antioxidant Function of Vitamins. Ann NY Acad Sci 1992; 669:7-20.

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