Acupuncturist / Anesthesia Student
Do athletes need to supplement with vitamins A or E?
Do Athletes Need Antioxidants?
By Debra Wein, MS, RD, LDN
Endurance athletes consume large amounts of oxygen which increases the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and leads to oxidative stress (4). Elevated oxidative stress has been associated with a number of pathologies, including muscle fatigue and muscle injury (3), cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer (4).
An antioxidant is a compound that protects biological systems against the harmful effects or reactions that create excessive oxidants. Dietary antioxidants significantly decrease the adverse effects of ROS (2). Vitamins C and E are powerful antioxidants that work together to protect an athlete from free radicals and oxidative stress. Endurance athletes are subject to great oxidative stress and there have been questions about whether such athletes need more vitamins C and E, especially in the form of supplements (2). It is also important to note that while strenuous aerobic exercise has the potential to produce more tissue-damaging reactive oxygen species, a positive result of aerobic training is a buildup of the body's natural defenses against free radicals (1).
A review of studies shows an almost equal number reporting that antioxidant supplementation has no effect on oxidative stress compared with those that report a decrease. In addition, a small number of studies have reported augmentation of exercise-induced oxidative stress after antioxidant supplementation. An obvious limitation of the current research is the lack of studies investigating antioxidants other than alpha tocopherol and vitamin C (4).
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Although research is still inconclusive to make firm recommendations about whether an athlete should choose antioxidant supplements, an athlete should try to consume a balanced, moderate fat diet with 20 – 35% of total calories, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine, rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fiber. The best advice is to try to meet your vitamin and mineral needs through adequate fruit and vegetable intake, and seek individualized nutrition advice from your physician or a Registered Dietitian if you think you need more specific information.
The problem is, of course, that most would like to supplement their way to a healthy diet versus eating a healthy diet [myself included].
OH MY GOD! running causes CANCER! Time for a whole bag of cheetos!
Interesting though. Do you have any information handy on studies that measure actual tissue damage from free radicals, or is this still in the realm of theory as far as being able to distinguish between the two?
I would like to read what their definition is of an "endurance athletes". I mean, what kind of people are they referring to? Is it the regular guy that does whatever physical activity to stay fit, or is it Olympics-level athletes they're talking about???.
I was just reading something recently that suggested that most athletes were deficient in zinc and magnesium, but showed higher than average samplings of stink and bacne.
Zinc and magnesium claims were promoted by the Balco dude as part of his "suppliment" therapy per the very well written Game of Shadows.
Anyways, a balanced diet takes care of vitamin levels adequately. Otherwise, one should have levels checked. Vitamins such as C get--literally--pissed out, but others such as A have risks of overdose.
Something to be aware of.
Nice overview at QuackWatch.
I personally don't like QuackWatch because of the lawsuits that the creator (S. Barret) has been in, particularly since his background is psychiatry, rather than chemistry, pharmacology, etc.
I've seen similar arguments for athletes needing greater amounts of antioxidants due to the increased amount of oxygen they get compared to a sedentary individual. Then again, there are antioxidants beyond these vitamins - catechins found in tea, anathyocin (sp?) in berries, and those found in red wine and very dark chocolate/cocoa. It's conceivable that a comprehensive diet with these ingredients and others could compensate.
yeah, I thought most of those articles were a little one sided. Though, I did agree with some of his assertions from the homeopathy articles, but he does rely on a lot of dated information, which in this case it seemed akin to comparing modern science's evolution from alchemy.
Originally Posted by Samurai Steve
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