ATHLETE x SCIENCE
ATHLETE x SCIENCE
Intense physical exercise creates an inflammatory stress reaction within the body, which can produce both adaptive and maladaptive physiologic responses. It has be undetermined by prior research, whether or not antioxidant supplementation during training may encourage the adaptive state (Slattery et al., 2015). If reactive oxygen species accumulate in excess, athletes may experience the symptoms of overtraining such as chronic fatigue. Uncontrolled oxidation of molecules can result in lipid, protein, and DNA damage, which results in diminished cellular function (Slattery et al., 2015). DNA damage is caused by an alteration in the pathways of transcription and can interfere with the positive outcomes generated for DNA adaptation to exercise-induced stress (Slattery et al., 2015). Disturbances in homeostatic balance can affect the function of other systems as well, such as metabolic, neuroendocrinologic, oxidative, physiological, psychological, and immunologic. Both antioxidants and branched-chain amino acids can help combat the effects of exercise induced oxidative stress.
Antioxidants and Inflammation
Antioxidants work by converting reactive oxygen species to less reactive molecules to eliminate additional stress. There is an endogenous mechanism for which combats the build-up of oxidative species during exercise. A low dietary intake of antioxidants can result in a decreased ability to utilize this endogenous reduction mechanism (Slattery et al., 2015). An excessive intake of antioxidants can cause an opposing reaction, suppressing the redox signaling process at a cellular level, hindering the beneficial effects of exercise at this level (Slattery et al., 2015). Consequentially, the exogenous antioxidant intake can prevent adaptive exercise processes from occurring during and after exercise. One study showed that administering 1,000IU of Vitamin C and 400IU of Vitamin E inhibits training-induced increases in skeletal muscle protein (Slattery et al., 2015).
Antioxidants have been shown to improve the exercise-induced inflammatory state that occurs as a result of musculoskeletal insult. Supplements such as Co-enzyme Q10, tart cherry juice and pomegranate juice can accelerate recovery by reducing inflammatory damage (Slattery et al., 2015). Most studies consist of an acute bout of exercise to induce drastic muscular damage for the purpose of testing, and then supplementation is compared against a control for immediate study (Slattery et al., 2015). Prolonged supplementation of these antioxidants can potentially have the same negative redox effects as mentioned above, however there are no long-term studies on this in particular (Slattery et al., 2015). It seems as though there is an optimal dosage of antioxidants that can create an adaptive, anabolic, regenerative, and enhanced state of performance and recovery, as seen in the figure below. Further research needs to be done to solidify that reference range for the various antioxidant supplements available to athletes.
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