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Artificial Antioxidants: The new “it” thing in the world of health supplements?

New research in the Journal of the American Chemical Society explores the potential of artificial antioxidants in the future of health supplements.

Antioxidants are found naturally in many foods and are a popular health ingredient as they can protect cells from damage. This cell damage is caused by free radicals in the body, which are naturally created from normal bodily processes, such as breathing. These free radical molecules are very reactive, and the build-up of too many can cause cell damage that contributes to the development of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

Although the body can utilize vitamin E and vitamin C to defend against the cell damage caused by free radicals, researchers explored how a man-made antioxidant, TEMPO, would perform and its potential in health supplements.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, researchers in Canada and Italy published their results on TEMPO’s performance as an antioxidant. The researchers experimented in environments simulated to mimic cells. They tested TEMPO’s ability and effectiveness to convert harmful free radicals to non-harmful molecules by studying the chemical reactions of TEMPO with free radicals.

The researchers found that TEMPO was very efficient in reacting with free radicals. They learned that TEMPO was capable of converting free radicals up to 100 times quicker than vitamin E. However, TEMPO’s ability to counter free radicals requires the presence of co-antioxidants to help complete the chemical reaction. Fortunately, these co-antioxidants are found in many biological systems, and the researchers expect that the reaction should only need a relatively small amount of co-antioxidants to perform efficiently.

They also tested TEMPO’s co-antioxidant system in models representative of natural compounds found in animal tissue to demonstrate proof-of-concept to TEMPO’s potential as a health supplement.

This study is the first to experiment and measure the chemical reaction properties of TEMPO with free radicals. TEMPO’s efficiency at converting free radicals to non-harmful molecules in simulated cell environments opens up the potential for its use in health supplements. TEMPO could be used to protect against the damage caused by free radical exposure.  The findings regarding TEMPO’s chemistry and reactivity may be useful to the design of new antioxidant health supplements.

Written by Maggie Leung, PharmD


  1. Skolski, N. (2018, September 11). Artificial anti-oxidant may be the next go-to supplement. Retrieved from
  2. Baschieri, A., Valgimigli, L., Gabbanini, S., Dilabio, G. A., Romero-Montalvo, E., &Amorati, R. (2018). Extremely Fast Hydrogen Atom Transfer between Nitroxides and HOO· Radicals and Implication for Catalytic Coantioxidant Systems.Journal of the American Chemical Society,140(32), 10354-10362.doi:10.1021/jacs.8b06336
Maggie Leung PharmD
Maggie Leung PharmD
Maggie is a registered pharmacist and has a PharmD from the University of Toronto. She currently works in the pharmacy informatics field as a clinician applications consultant. In her role, she supports the integration and optimization of technology in healthcare. She enjoys learning about the latest in scientific research and sharing that knowledge through her writing for Medical News Bulletin. Maggie is a big dog lover and enjoys traveling and spending time with her friends and family.


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