Antioxidants are naturally created nutrients that help maintain the health of cells and support the immune system in fighting infection. Antioxidants are commonly found in fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Certain compounds known as carotenoids also contain concentrations of antioxidants.
During the normal process of cellular activity, a process called oxidant stress occurs. Oxidant stress is the name given to the cellular process that results in the release of damaged molecules known as free radicals. While free radicals are no longer useful as cells, they rob nutrients from healthy cells such as fat and protein. When healthy cells are starved by free radicals, they die. When cells die as part of the cellular life cycle, the body uses a process called peroxidation to destroy them. Cells that die due to free radical damage are also destroyed by the body, but the body can become overwhelmed with an excessive number of dead cells, and this can contribute to further cell damage.
How Antioxidants Work
Antioxidants, as the name suggest, counter the effects of oxidant stress. Antioxidants stabilize free radicals, eliminating their ability to harm healthy cells. When there are insufficient antioxidants in the body, cellular damage occurs on all levels, affecting skin, organs, nerves, and the immune system.
Supplying our bodies with an adequate supply of antioxidants is essential to maintaining healthy cells. Taking vitamins or supplements daily that contain antioxidants are a good way to maintain cellular health.