Originally posted by Ira
"Antioxidant" is a classification of several organic substances, including vitamins A, C, and E and a group known as the carotenoids. Antioxidants deactivate free radicals before the latter can cause any harm to the body. Free radicals are the byproducts of many processes within cells, and may also be the result of exposure to various environmental factors like smoke and radiation. They can cause damage to cells and genetic materials unless stopped, and the damage may become permanent and result in diseases like cancer, stroke, and heart disease longterm.