Antioxidents: Blunt our training adaptations?

Below is an infogram from @YLMSportScience. We’ve talked about this before with ice baths for recovery. Part of the training adaptations are triggered by the damage that we do to the muscles and the stress we place on our cardiovascular system. If we limit that, then is it possible we limit the triggers for adaptation? It’s looking like we at least blunt these responses. So, be careful with the mega doses of things like vitamin C. You might feel better the next day, but you might end up having to work even harder in the long term…





Do you load up antioxidants?

Keeping up with research is tough, but luckily the twitterverse makes it a little easier if you follow the right people. This little tidbit came across this morning and I had a chance to read through: Vitamin C and E supplementation

Recently, there has been increasingly more evidence that taking mega doses of antioxidants like vitamins C and E can actually hinder your hard earned aerobic adaptations. In fact I think I’ve seen a few people posting things about what’s true and what’s not. Anyway, here’s a easy breakdown of what this article found:

  • supplementation blunted certain protein up regulations that typically occur with training BUT training induced improvements  in VO2max and running performance were not altered.
  • However, these proteins being depressed could contribute to blunted mitochondrial growth. This, we know, would not be good! Keep in mind that this study was done over 11 weeks, which simply may not be enough time to show what happens long term. We know it takes years to develop our aerobic systems and a several week study just can’t represent long term effects. Imagine taking a huge dose of vitamin C several days a week over several years? It’s a very possible scenario.
  • Also, gened expression of certain signalling proteins were depressed, BUT capillarisation and stress proteins were not altered. I would consider what we just discussed in this case too.

Another study didn’t show any alterations, but the primary difference was the amount of vitamin C given. In the study that showed no “depression” in activity involved daily doses of 500 mg/day, whereas the current study used 1000 mg/day. Also, the previous study didn’t look at the same markers. The markers observed in the current study are directly related to the state of mitochondrial growth.

The bottom line is to be careful. People take these antioxidants to recover faster, but if you potentially blunt the growth of mitochondria, then it doesn’t particularly matter is you are recovered! Honestly, it simply shows that more is not always better- just like a lot of running related topics.

My 2 cents- Luke