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Antioxidants for Sports & Fitness

Antioxidants and Free Radicals
Antioxidants and Free Radicals: Main Image

How Much Is Usually Taken by Athletes?

Most research has demonstrated that strenuous exercise increases production of harmful substances called free radicals, which can damage muscle tissue and result in inflammation and muscle soreness. Exercising in cities or smoggy areas also increases exposure to free radicals. Antioxidants, including vitamin C and vitamin E, neutralize free radicals before they can damage the body, so antioxidants may aid in exercise recovery. Regular exercise increases the efficiency of the antioxidant defense system, potentially reducing the amount of supplemental antioxidants that might otherwise be needed for protection. However, at least theoretically, supplements of antioxidant vitamins may be beneficial for older or untrained people or athletes who are undertaking an especially vigorous training protocol or athletic event.1, 2

Placebo-controlled research, some of it double-blind, has shown that taking 400 to 3,000 mg of vitamin C per day for several days before and after intense exercise may reduce pain and speed up muscle strength recovery.3, 4, 5 However, taking vitamin C only after such exercise was not effective in another double-blind study.6 While some research has reported that vitamin E supplementation in the amount of 800 to 1,200 IU per day reduces biochemical measures of free-radical activity and muscle damage caused by strenuous exercise,7, 8, 9 several studies have not found such benefits,10, 11, 12, 13 and no research has investigated the effect of vitamin E on performance-related measures of strenuous exercise recovery. A combination of 90 mg per day of coenzyme Q10 and a very small amount of vitamin E did not produce any protective effects for marathon runners in one double-blind trial,14 while in another double-blind trial a combination of 50 mg per day of zinc and 3 mg per day of copper significantly reduced evidence of post-exercise free radical activity.15

In most well-controlled studies, exercise performance has not been shown to improve following supplementation with vitamin C, unless a deficiency exists, as might occur in athletes with unhealthy or irrational eating patterns.16, 17 Similarly, vitamin E has not benefited exercise performance,18, 19 except possibly at high altitudes.20, 21

Side Effects

Antioxidants include many different nutrients, each of which has potential side effects. Look up the unique side effects for each and discuss the potential benefits and risks with your doctor or pharmacist before adding antioxidants, such as:

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

Antioxidants include many different nutrients, each of which has the potential to interact with drugs. Look up the unique interactions for each and discuss the potential benefits and risks of your current medications with your doctor or pharmacist before adding antioxidants, such as:

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions:beneficial= Beneficialadverse= Adversecheck= Check
dnicon_BeneficialReplenish Depleted Nutrients

none

dnicon_BeneficialReduce Side Effects

none

dnicon_BeneficialSupport Medicine
dnicon_AvoidReduces Effectiveness

none

dnicon_AvoidPotential Negative Interaction
dnicon_CheckExplanation Required

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.