A tyrosinase inhibitor is a substance that inhibits (works
against) tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is a type of enzyme. An
enzyme is a type of protein that helps produce chemical
reactions in the body. Tyrosinase increases the rate of
oxidation of certain substances in the body. Oxidation is
a chemical reaction in which one of the following things
Vanillin is a type of tyrosinase
1. An element or compound gains oxygen. An element is a substance that cannot be split
into simpler substances by a chemical reaction. A compound is a substance that is made
by combining two or more elements.
2. A compound loses hydrogen, which is a non-metallic element that is the most common
in the universe. Hydrogen is a gas that occurs naturally in many of Earth's compounds.
3. An atom or ion loses electrons. An atom is the smallest part of a substance that can
exist and still possess all of the properties that are characteristic of the substance. An ion
is an atom or a group of atoms that have an electric charge by gaining or losing one or
more electrons. An electron is a negatively charged particle.
When food undergoes oxidation, it sometimes becomes brown. You can see oxidation
occur by biting into an apple and letting it sit out. When the apple gets exposed to the air
(oxidation) the white part of the apple will become brown.
The brown color is evidence of the chemical reaction that occurs when oxidation happens. Tyrosinase
inhibitors prevent browning in food because they decrease oxidation. This is because tyrosinase
inhibitors work against the oxidation caused by tyrosinase. Tyrosinase inhibitors are important ingredients
of some medications that help to decrease some types of colored spots on people's skin. Vanilliin, a
compound of vanilla (pictured above), is a type of tyrosinase inhibitor.