Antioxidants - How do you help the organism?

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances that protect the body from reactive oxygen species (ROS) by deactivating them. They are used in foods, cosmetics, medicines and consumables, are naturally present, but are also produced synthetically[1].

What are antioxidants chemically?

Fig. 1 The vitamin C (ascorbic acid) molecule

Antioxidants are molecules that deactivate free radicals (e.g., O-). This is done through one of two mechanisms. That of the radical scavenger or that of the reducing agent. Radical scavengers are chemicals that can catch radicals, but they turn into radicals themselves, but are so inert that they themselves do no harm to the organism [2]. Such radical scavengers are e.g. Vitamin E. The second mechanism is that of the reducing agent. Such reducing agents per se have a very low reduction potential (* 1). By this property they are more likely to be attacked by the radical than other molecules of the organism. Such reducing agents include vitamin C and glutathione. In addition, there are so-called synergists which aid in their action by giving antioxidants, e.g. by regeneration of the substance, or by the binding of trace elements. Such synergists are citric, tartaric and phosphoric acid, as well as their salts [3].

* 1 - The reduction potential is the voltage generated by the movement of the electrons through a redox reaction[4].

What are the properties and benefits of antioxidants?

Of course, antioxidants are e.g. in the form of vitamins A, C and E, as well as polyphenols (so-called flavonoids), but synthetic variants are also known, e.g. BHA (butylhydroxyanisole) [4]. They are used in food and cosmetics to keep these products from getting nasty. In medicines and plastics, they are used to protect against harmful by-products or decomposition products. Thus, they protect the smell or taste in foods and cosmetics, in drugs the abatement of the effect, and in plastics the change of physical properties [5]. The body can not produce enough antioxidants and therefore needs an extra intake through the food, with the first place being the coffee, with 1299mg / day. The tea in second place reaches at least 294 mg / day, which is less than a quarter [6]. However, the required amount of antioxidants should not be exceeded as there is a regulated free radical body in the body. The ROS also play an important role as signal molecules and as such are essential to the body. Excessive levels of antioxidants have serious consequences, ranging from liver damage to cancers and higher mortality rates, so a lot of antioxidants are sometimes more harmful than the radicals they are designed to protect [7].

What do anti-oxidants on the skin and what's wrong with the "anti-aging"?

So far, there are hardly any studies that clearly demonstrate a positive effect of antioxidants. Polyphenols have a proven effect on the skin, but not in vitro (from the outside) [8]. The skin aging slowing properties of antioxidants are actually easy to explain: "The idea of ​​oxidation and aging is kept alive by people who make money from it." There is a lack of scientific evidence for the cosmetic benefit / anti-aging effect, and only the by-products of plant matter in cosmetics have proven effects [9]



Scientific article on the negative effects of antioxidants[7]

Scientific article on flavonoids and other active substances in plants[8]

Scientific Article on Anti-aging Myths of Antioxidants[9]

Scientific Article on Antioxidants[1][2][3][4][5]

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