What’re Free Radicals & Antioxidants

Definition and interpretation

Free radicals, also known as electrotrimmers, are atoms, molecules, or ions that have unpaired valence electrons. 1. Because electrons like to “travel” in pairs or need companions, if there is only one electron on a chemical, the chemical is so active that it can easily “steal” an electron from its surroundings, as is usually the case in the body

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are also biological products of metabolism. 4 As explained in another article, ROS has both negative and positive health benefits

Three erroneous zone

In addition to the main misconception that all reactive oxygen species are harmful and the more antioxidants the better, there is a misconception that is more like a chemical technique than a physiological one.

There are tons of books, marketing literature, explanations, websites, YouTube videos, etc., where free radicals are labeled positively and antioxidants are labeled negatively. This statement even falsely claims that low pH (acidic) water or food is oxidizing and high pH (alkaline) water or food is antioxidant

(1) are all free radicals positively charged?

Let’s start with the fallacy that all free radicals are positive. When I hear people say that free radicals are positively charged, I like to ask them, “do you know which free radicals are positively charged? “Although some organic molecules, cations and reactive nitrogen, are characterized by free radicals, 10 or 11 positively charged free radicals are not common in biological systems. In fact, most biological free radicals are negative or neutral. Look at pictures of several common free radicals and their structures. They’re actually not all free radicals, like hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, peroxy nitrite, hypochlorite, because they don’t have electrons that don’t pair. They follow the octet rule.

(2) are all antioxidants negatively charged?

The second common misconception, like the first, is that all antioxidants are negatively charged. Do you know which antioxidants are negatively charged? Some, but most are neutral. (read this if you think OH -) in general, antioxidants have conjugated PI systems that allow for electron delocalization and different resonance structures. This way, the antioxidant can contribute an electron to a free radical without overreacting on its own

(3) do the PH values of acids and bases correspond to free radicals and antioxidants?

Another misconception is that acidic food or water is oxidizing, while alkaline food or water is antioxidant. Which begs the question, what about ascorbic acid? It’s the epitome of acids and antioxidants. In fact, most antioxidant-rich fruits, 13 of them, are acidic (pH 1-5).

In fact, pH and free radicals are completely different chemical reactions. One is acid base chemistry, and the other is REDOX chemistry. If something is acidic, that means it has a higher concentration of H+ ions. Remember that free radicals are chemicals with unpaired electrons; Notice that H+ doesn’t even have an electron? For this reason alone, it is clear that the whole concept is flawed.


In summary, free radicals are simply chemicals with unpaired electrons. They’re not always positive, in fact most of them are negative or neutral. Antioxidants are not always negative, but they are usually neutral and can provide electrons without triggering their own reactions. In addition, there is a clear distinction between acid/base chemistry and REDOX chemistry and the two should not be confused.

Note: This article comes from Molecular Hydrogen Institute (MHI)


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