What Exactly Are Antioxidants?

What Exactly Are Antioxidants?

You may have heard a lot of talk about antioxidants… especially when it comes to green tea, chocolate, red wine, or even coffee. However, few people know what they truly are or how they work.

Today we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about antioxidants.

So, What Exactly Are Antioxidants?

Simply put, an antioxidant is a chemical substance that protects cells from the harmful effects of free radicals (molecules produced when the body breaks down certain foods, is exposed to pollutants such as tobacco smoke or radiation, or after exercise). Free radicals can harm cells and are linked to heart disease, certain types of cancer, and other illnesses.

Your body has its own antioxidant defenses to keep free radicals in check. However, antioxidants can also be found in food, especially in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based, whole foods. Several vitamins, such as vitamins E and C, are effective antioxidants as well. There are hundreds, probably thousands, of different substances that can act as antioxidants and the most common ones include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Beta-carotene
  • Lycopene
  • Lutein
  • Catechins
  • Selenium
  • Flavonoids


Why Do We Want to Include Antioxidants in Our Diet?

  1. To fight free radicals. As stated before, antioxidants are chemicals that help stop or limit damage caused by free radicals.1 Your body uses antioxidants to balance free radicals which keeps them from causing damage to other cells.1
  2. For healthy eyes. Antioxidant supplements have been demonstrated to have favorable effects in several large clinical trials conducted by the National Eye Institute and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).2 A six-year clinical experiment indicated that a combination of antioxidants (500 mg vitamin C, 400 IU vitamin E, 15 mg beta carotene, 80 mg zinc) lowered the incidence of Age Related Macular Degeneration by 25%.2
  3. To reduce inflammation. Antioxidants help reduce inflammation. Vitamin C, for example, has been shown to reduce c-reactive protein (CRP) and elevated CRP is associated with increased cardiovascular disease.3 In one study, Vitamin C was shown to reduce CRP by 25% in those with elevated CRP.3
  4. For brain health. Several studies have shown an association between neurodegenerative disorders (e.g., Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and antioxidant vitamin deficiency. In one of these studies, adults 65 and older who were administered vitamin C and/or vitamin E had a lower risk of cognitive deterioration.4 Additionally, nearly 6,000 men over 65 years old were given a placebo or a 50 mg beta-carotene supplement in a well-respected clinical trial called The Physicians’ Health Study II.5 The males who supplemented with beta-carotene for at least 15 years showed cognitive improvements, according to the researchers.5
  5. For mental health. There is growing research showing a connection between a deficient antioxidant defense system, oxidative stress, and mood disorders. A recent study found that there were lower levels of vitamins A, C, and E in people with anxiety disorder and depression.6 After receiving 6-weeks of dietary supplementation, blood levels of antioxidants increased, and depression and anxiety symptoms were reduced.6

As you can see, antioxidants are powerful substances with countless benefits. Did you know that each and every FITTEAM product is formulated with ingredients that contain antioxidants? In addition to the other amazing functional benefits of using the FITTEAM family of products, it is nice to know that you are also getting the added benefit of antioxidants in addition to what you are taking in through your diet!

Maryann Walsh, MFN, RD, CDE
Registered Dietitian/ Consultant


  1. Sotler, R., Poljšak, B., Dahmane, R., Jukić, T., Pavan Jukić, D., Rotim, C., Trebše, P., & Starc, A. (2019). Prooxidant activities of antioxidants and their impact on health. Acta Clinica Croatica, 58(4), 726–736.
  2. Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group. (2001). A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E and beta carotene for age-related cataract and vision loss: AREDS report no. 9. Archives of Ophthalmology, 119(10), 1439.
  3. Block, G., Jensen, C. D., Dalvi, T. B., Norkus, E. P., Hudes, M., Crawford, P. B., Holland, N., Fung, E. B., Schumacher, L., & Harmatz, P. (2009). Vitamin C treatment reduces elevated C-reactive protein. Free Radical Biology & Medicine, 46(1), 70–77.
  4. Teleanu, R. I., Chircov, C., Grumezescu, A. M., Volceanov, A., & Teleanu, D. M. (2019). Antioxidant therapies for neuroprotection-A review. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 8(10), 1659.
  5. Grodstein, F., Kang, J. H., Glynn, R. J., Cook, N. R., & Gaziano, J. M. (2007). A randomized trial of beta carotene supplementation and cognitive function in men: the Physicians’ Health Study II. Archives of Internal Medicine, 167(20), 2184–2190.
  6. Gautam, M., Agrawal, M., Gautam, M., Sharma, P., Gautam, A. S., & Gautam, S. (2012). Role of antioxidants in generalised anxiety disorder and depression. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 54(3), 244–247.