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)|
Girls: 9-13 yrs
Girls: 14-18 yrs
Women: 19-70 yrs
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
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.