Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Exercise and Vitamin Supplements

Exercise creates free radicals, charged molecules that can damage our cells, and anti-oxidant vitamins neutralize free radicals. Therefore we should take vitamins after exercise, right? Well, maybe not:

October 6, 2010, 12:01 am
Phys Ed: Free the Free Radicals
‘‘The evidence suggests that antioxidants are not needed’’ by most athletes, even those training strenuously, said Li Li Ji, a professor of exercise physiology and nutritional science at the University of Wisconsin and one of the authors of the rat study. ‘‘The body adapts,’’ he said, a process that can, it seems, be altered by antioxidant supplements.

Another lesson: ‘‘Eat well,’’ he said. Although this is not yet proved, it seems likely, he continued, that antioxidants from foods, like blueberries, green tea and carrots, may work in tandem with the body’s natural antioxidant defenses better than those from supplements.

My suggestion is to eat a piece of fruit after a workout to get anti-oxidants in their natural state together with other phyto(plant) nutrients. The immediate calorie intake can also help replenish your glycogen, your muscles' preferred form of stored energy, and that helps enable protein synthesis- otherwise known as building muscle.

I'll note that there is a lot of debate on post-exercise nutrition, which is another good reason to stick to simple, natural foods and not be too analytical about your body. Science changes, nature does not.

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