Monday, March 3, 2014

Antioxidants & Training: Harmful or Helpful?

Chances are, you’ve heard that antioxidants can increase the impact of workouts. They became popular dietary supplements when they were said to soak up the highly reactive oxygen molecules, or free radicals, that are generated during activities. When there is an excess of free radicals in the body, there can be cell death or tissue damage. Since scientists believe that our body creates too few natural antioxidants to counteract the free radicals, many serious fitness performers began taking antioxidant supplements.

In a new study performed by researchers at the NorwegianSchool of Sport Sciences in Oslo, it was discovered that athletes who were given large doses of vitamin C and vitamin E supplements, did not develop as many markers related to mitochondrial creation as those who did not take an antioxidant supplement. More mitochondria, especially in muscle cells, means more energy and, by and large, better health and fitness. The creation of new mitochondria is, in fact, generally held to be one of the most important effects of exercise.

Physiologists have begun to suspect that free radicals may play a different role during and after exercise than previously thought. They are now thinking that free radicals are not as harmful as they once thought. Without free radicals, the biochemical reactions that end in strong muscles and better metabolic health seem to start. Since most of the free radicals are absorbed by the antioxidants when the supplements are taken, it would seem that antioxidants do not increase the benefits of working out. 

Although they are not yet sure, physiologists believe that it is only the concentrated versions of vitamins C and E that will force losing the benefits of exercise. The natural ones that come from eating foods such as blueberries should not be problematic to training.