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Antioxidants are biochemical substances that play a key role in protecting our body cells from oxidative damage. This damage is caused by free radicals, which are by-products of normal and pathological processes in the body. By neutralizing these highly reactive molecules, antioxidants help prevent or mitigate the progression of a variety of diseases.

Discovery of antioxidants

Research into antioxidants began in the 1940s when scientists started to investigate the causes of cell damage at a molecular level. However, the term “antioxidant” was not coined until a few years later when it was realized that certain substances such as vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene could prevent the oxidation of other molecules. This discovery led to a better understanding of how cellular stress and damage from environmental factors such as UV radiation and air pollution can contribute to chronic disease and ageing.

Forms and dosage of antioxidants

Antioxidants can be taken in various ways: with food, in the form of supplements and in some cases by topical application. The dosage varies depending on the form and the specific antioxidant. For example, vitamin C is often recommended in doses of 500 to 1,000 mg per day, while vitamin E is often taken in doses of 100 to 400 IU (International Units). However, it is important to discuss intake with a doctor to avoid overdosing, which can lead to side effects.

Diseases and the influence of antioxidants

Antioxidants have the potential to influence the development and progression of many chronic diseases. These include cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and eye diseases such as macular degeneration. The mechanism by which antioxidants achieve these effects is by reducing oxidative damage to cells, thereby reducing the body’s overall inflammatory response and supporting normal cell function.

Dietary supplements and medicinal plants

Other dietary supplements and medicinal plants can also support the body’s antioxidant defenses. Particularly popular are curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric), ginkgo biloba, green tea (rich in epigallocatechin gallate) and selenium. These substances provide additional antioxidant benefits and can act synergistically when taken together with other antioxidants.

Food sources of antioxidants

Many foods are natural sources. These primarily include colorful fruits and vegetables such as berries, carrots and spinach. Nuts, seeds and whole grains also contain antioxidant compounds. Green tea and dark chocolate are also good sources.

Possible side effects

Although they offer many health benefits, they can also have side effects in high doses. Possible side effects include gastrointestinal discomfort, headaches and, in the case of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A and E, the risk of hypervitaminosis. It is therefore important to monitor intake and not to exceed the recommended daily dose without medical supervision.

Antioxidants in naturopathy

In naturopathy, they are often used to prevent and treat diseases. Traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine use plants and herbs rich in antioxidant substances to promote balance in the body and support natural healing.

The effect of antioxidants on our health is a fascinating area of modern science. By combining diet, supplements and a healthy lifestyle, we can maximize the benefits of these powerful compounds to prevent disease and improve our quality of life.

Optimizing antioxidant defences through lifestyle

In addition to direct intake through food and supplements, lifestyle also plays a crucial role in optimizing our body’s antioxidant protection. Regular physical activity and avoiding harmful substances such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption help to reduce oxidative stress. Stress management through techniques such as meditation, yoga or sufficient sleep can also help to minimize the production of free radicals in the body.

Research and future prospects

Research in the field of antioxidants is extensive and constantly growing. Scientists are not only investigating new sources and types, but also their specific effects on various diseases and body processes. One particularly interesting area is the study of interactions between different antioxidants and how these synergies can be used for more precise and effective treatment approaches.

Implementing findings in everyday life

To reap the full benefits of antioxidants, a balanced diet rich in various antioxidants should be sought. This can be achieved through a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Supplements should be taken as needed and under a doctor’s supervision to ensure that they meet individual health needs and do not interact negatively with other medications or medical conditions.


Antioxidants are powerful allies in our quest for health and longevity. Through their ability to neutralize oxidative damage and support cellular function, they play a critical role in the prevention and treatment of disease. Although there are many benefits to taking them, it is important to ensure the correct dosage and to take a holistic approach to health that includes a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. By constantly expanding and applying our knowledge of antioxidants, we can strengthen our natural defenses and improve our long-term well-being.

This comprehensive look at antioxidants not only highlights their importance to our health, but also offers practical ways to incorporate their benefits into our daily lives. With further research and a better understanding of their mechanisms, they can continue to play a central role in preventative medicine and in the treatment of disease.

Published on: 17. April 2024


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