Natural Antioxidants: Function and Sources


The definition of antioxidants, given in 1995 by Halliwell and Gutteridge, stated that an antioxidant is “any substance that, when present at low concentrations compared with that of an oxidizable substrate, significantly delays or inhibits oxidation of that substrate” [1]. In 2007, Halliwell gave a more specific definition, stating that an antioxidant is “any substance that delays, prevents or removes oxidative damage to a target molecule” [2]. Oxidation reactions produce free radicals that can start multiple chain reactions that eventually cause damage or death to the cell. Antioxidants remove these free-radical intermediates by being oxidized themselves, and inhibit other oxidation reactions, thus stopping the harmful chain reactions. Such oxidative processes are dangerous for all living cells, especially those in proximity to sites where active oxygen is released by photosynthesis. Spontaneous oxidation causes food rancidity and spoilage of medicines. Furthermore, oxidative stress is an important part of many human diseases that can occur, inter alia, due to a lack of appropriate nutrition and exercise, air pollution, smoking, and more, leading to lethal diseases, such as cancer. Therefore, it is imperative to include antioxidants in our diets. Due to the fact that synthetically produced antioxidants are currently used in the food and pharmaceutical industries in order to prolong product shelf life, there is currently a strong trend to search for large, available, and efficient natural sources of antioxidants to replace the synthetic ones, thus minimizing damage to our cells.

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Y. Shebis, D. Iluz, Y. Kinel-Tahan, Z. Dubinsky and Y. Yehoshua, "Natural Antioxidants: Function and Sources," Food and Nutrition Sciences, Vol. 4 No. 6, 2013, pp. 643-649. doi: 10.4236/fns.2013.46083.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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