Free radicals are still necessary for life, but in order to prevent yourself from developing these diseases, you need to take action in keeping free radicals at a minimum. Fortunately for us, the body has a number of mechanisms to minimize free radical induced damage and to repair the damage which does occur. Previous studies have shown that antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta carotene (a from of vitamin A), have potential health-promoting properties. The data on antioxidant vitamins is incomplete for the most part but up to 30 percent of Americans are already taking some form of antioxidant vitamin supplement along with their diet. All these are complex compounds found in almost every plant. Carotenoids are the largest group of naturally occurring antioxidants, followed closely by indoles and coumarins. Catechins are the natural antioxidants found in the Camellia sinensis plant where we get our green tea, oolong tea, and black tea. The function of antioxidants is to destroy harmful free radicals, counteracting the damaging of tissues and in effect, treating aging or causing its retardation. Antioxidants are commonplace in nature. In fact, antioxidants are abundant in more common vitamins such as retinol or Vitamin A, ascorbic acid or Vitamin C, tocopherol or Vitamin E, and selenium. These substances are called free radicals. Free radicals can be harmful to the body, especially if there is an excess of them. They may cause damage to the cell membranes, causing them to weaken. Because free radicals are chemically unstable, they have this bad habit of stealing electrons from stable molecules and in so doing, turn these molecules into free radicals themselves. And how does vitamin E and the other antioxidant nutrients help protect the body against free radical damage? In this article, we will attempt to answer all your questions about antioxidant and free radicals, plus help you understand why it is so important to include rich sources of antioxidant nutrients in your daily diet.