Antioxidants are natural chemicals that protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Many experts believe that this damage is a factor in the development of cancer and other conditions.
You are exposed to free radicals:
Through by-products of normal processes that take place in your body. Examples include burning sugars for energy and releasing digestive enzymes to break down food.
When the body breaks down certain medicines.
Antioxidants include some vitamins (such as vitamins C and E), some minerals (such as selenium), and flavonoids, which are found in plants. The best sources of antioxidants are fruits and vegetables. You can find flavonoids in fruits, red wine, and teas. You can also buy antioxidant supplements. But it's best to get antioxidants from a healthy diet.
Why It Is Used
Antioxidants may play a role in the management or prevention of some medical conditions, such as some cancers, macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, and some arthritis-related conditions.
Until more studies are done, it's best to get your antioxidants from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables rather than from supplements. Taking supplements in high doses can be harmful. No single antioxidant alone can protect the body.
The Natural and Non-Prescription Health Products Directorate (NNHPD), within the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada, regulates natural health products in Canada. Natural health products, including antioxidant supplements, must be reviewed and approved by the NNHPD before they can be sold in Canada.
Always tell your doctor if you're using a natural health product or if you're thinking about combining a natural health product with your standard medical treatment. This is especially important if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
If you have questions about physical activity or exercise, call 8-1-1 (or 7-1-1 for the deaf and heard of hearing) toll-free in B.C. Our qualified exercise professionals are available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm Pacific Time. You can also leave a message after hours.
Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.
HealthLinkBC’s qualified exercise professionals can also answer your questions by email.
If you have any questions about healthy eating, food, or nutrition, call 8-1-1 (or 7-1-1 for the deaf and hard of hearing) toll-free in B.C. You can speak to a health service navigator who can connect you with one of our registered dietitians, who are available 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. You can also leave a message after hours.
Translations services are available in more than 130 languages.
HealthLinkBC Dietitians can also answer your questions by email.