An antioxidant in medicine, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, or beta-carotene, prevents oxidation and protects against its harmful effects.
Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free oxygen radicals that can damage cells. Antioxidants such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C) terminate these reactions.
The term “antioxidant” is used primarily for two different groups of substances: industrial chemicals added to products to prevent oxidation and natural chemicals found in foods and body tissues that are claimed to have health effects.
Antioxidants are often added to vegetable oils and prepared foods to delay food spoilage.
The second group includes natural chemicals found in foods and body tissues that are claimed to have health effects. Antioxidants are believed to potentially reduce the risk of cancer.« Return to Dictionary