What is a Pro-oxidant?

What is a Prooxidant? An oxidant, or prooxidant, is any substance that seeks to take electrons away from another substance. When enough electrons are lost without prompt replacement, this process of oxidation eventually results in cellular, and ultimately tissue, damage. Although a very limited amount of oxidation is a necessary and normal part of cellular metabolism, an excess of oxidation is always damaging, will always make you vulnerable to disease, and will always accelerate the aging process.

Virtually every substance that enters the body through respiration, absorption, or ingestion will ultimately be broken down, or digested, into components that are antioxidant or prooxidant. In other words, except for the very rare completely chemically inert substance, everything entering the body will ultimately give or take away electrons at the cellular and subcellular level.

How an Antioxidant Works

An antioxidant, then, is any substance that inhibits or prevents oxidative damage by supplying electrons back to the substance that was oxidized (repair) or by supplying electrons directly to the oxidant substance before it has the opportunity to take or deplete electrons from the target substance (prevention). An antioxidant “cures” oxidation and its free radicals by neutralizing them with an infusion of electrons.

When antioxidants cannot be supplied promptly and in a high enough quantity, oxidative damage will invariably result in electron-depleted cells and tissues, eventually leading to a clinically recognizable disease or toxic condition. Conversely, when there is an adequate supply of antioxidants present while oxidation is occurring, electrons can be supplied back quickly enough and in a sufficient amount so that no significant damage will result.

The cells of the body utilize electrons as their fuel. Antioxidants, in tandem with their oxidized counterparts, can be considered the transport mechanism for allowing adequate access and delivery of this electron “fuel” to all of the different cellular and subcellular sites in the body.