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Antioxidants

Antioxidants occur naturally in our bodies and in food (dietary antioxidants). They act as part of the natural defence and repair systems of the body. The human body is exposed to unstable compounds called free radicals, where exposure to too many can have a damaging effect. Dietary antioxidants stabilise these compounds to help keep the balance right and therefore, maintain a healthy body. Fruit, vegetables, dark chocolate, red wine, tea and coffee all contain antioxidants.

How Much Do I Need?

There are no recommended daily intakes for antioxidants, however there are recommended intakes for essential vitamins, which are a common type of antioxidants.

Recommended Daily Intakes (RDI) for New Zealanders.


Populations Group RDI

Vitamin A (µg/day) Vitamin C (mg/day)
Children:
All: 1-3yrs
All: 4-8yrs
Boys: 9-13yrs
Boys: 14-18yrs
Girls: 9-13 yrs
Girls: 14-18 yrs
300
400
600
900
600
700
35
35
40
40
40
40
Adults:
Men: 19-70yrs
Women: 19-70 yrs
900
700
45
45
Pregnancy:
14-18yrs
19-50yrs
700
800
55
60
Lactation:
14-18yrs
19-50 yrs
1100
1100
80
85
  

Where Do I Get Antioxidants From?

Type of Antioxidants Major Food Sources
Vitamin C Blackcurrants, kiwifruit, cauliflower, broccoli, oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, spinach
Vitamin A and Carotenoids Liver, milk, cheese, egg yolk, fatty fish, carrots, dark-green leafy vegetables like spinach, yellow and orange coloured fruits like mangoes, apricots and oranges
Selenium Brazil nuts, fish, meats, cereal, grains
Polyphenols Tea, coffee, cocoa, red wine, olive oil, apples, pears, deep coloured fruits like blueberries, cherries, cranberries and plums

TIPS FOR BOOSTING ANTIOXIDANTS IN YOUR DIET

The dietary guidelines by the National Health and Medical Research Council for adults in New Zealand recommend on average at least 2 serves of fruits and 5 serves of vegetables each day which is a great way to boost antioxidant intake.

 

This fact sheet contains general information. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific advice for your personal situation.

Check out the following articles for further reading: A-Z Guide to Nutrition

See also: Ministry of Health’s Food and Nutrition Guidelines 


References

1. Whitney E et. al. Understanding Nutrition, Australian and New Zealand Edition, Cengage Learning, 2011.

2. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand. Australian Government Publishing Services 2005.

3. Mann J and Truswell AS, Essentials of Human Nutrition, Oxford University Press, 3rd Edition, 2007

4. Manach et. al. Polyphenols: food sources and bioavailability, Am J Clin Nutr 2004, 79:727-47.

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