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Antioxidant Nutrition

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Excerpt: Stuff to remember when fighting against free radicals Vitamins and Minerals Vitamin A — This lipid soluble vitamin has been shown to possess antioxidant properties, offering protection against lipid peroxidation, oxidative damage to proteins, and LDL oxidation. While these benefits are certainly desirable, very little research has been done in athletes since vitamin A toxicity is likely at higher doses. Interestingly, while plasma vitamin A decreases with exercise training, skeletal

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  1. #1
    anthrax's Avatar
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    Arrow Antioxidant Nutrition

    Stuff to remember when fighting against free radicals

    Vitamins and Minerals

    Vitamin A — This lipid soluble vitamin has been shown to possess antioxidant properties, offering protection against lipid peroxidation, oxidative damage to proteins, and LDL oxidation. While these benefits are certainly desirable, very little research has been done in athletes since vitamin A toxicity is likely at higher doses. Interestingly, while plasma vitamin A decreases with exercise training, skeletal muscle vitamin A increases. In our opinion, as long as you're getting your RDA (900ug per day), no supplemental vitamin A is necessary or encouraged.

    Beta Carotene — The carotenoids are a group of lipid soluble molecules (including lycopene, alpha and gamma carotene, canthaxanthin, lutein, etc), some of which are converted to vitamin A. However, some of the carotenoids have vitamin A independent roles including radical quenching, immune enhancement, and the induction of detoxification enzymes. Beta-carotene and lycopene are the best studied for these properties as well as their role in deterring cancer and heart disease. While there are very few exercise data, exercise does reduce plasma carotenoids. Supplementation with a combination of vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene can reduce lipid peroxidation at rest and at different exercise intensities as well as protecting against glutathione levels and muscle damage. We recommend supplementing with perhaps 5,000-10,000 international units daily.

    Vitamin C — Ascorbic acid, is a very well researched water-soluble vitamin that has strong antioxidant properties. Vitamin C has the interesting ability to act as a primary non-specific antioxidant (it removes all radicals) as well as the ability to regenerate vitamin E. This can lead to a reduction in free radical production during exercise as well as a reduction in muscle soreness and damage. While vitamin C has a host of benefits, its antioxidant properties have to be weighed against its pro-oxidant properties. You see, vitamin C has the ability to increase dietary iron absorption. Iron is a potent pro-oxidant and linked to cardiovascular disease, particularly in men. And in excess, vitamin C itself can actually be a pro-oxidant. So moderate your doses. We recommend 250mg of vitamin C 1-2x daily (in addition to what your diet provides and not in conjunction with iron-rich meals).

    Vitamin E — This lipid soluble vitamin is the most heavily researched antioxidant vitamin as members of the vitamin E family play roles in immunity, aging, exercise, heart disease, and cancer. For exercisers, muscle trauma can be attenuated with vitamin E supplementation, having favorable effects on lipid peroxidation, release of tissue enzymes, and protein damage/catabolism. While very large doses of vitamin E can be toxic, there is a wide therapeutic range. However, to maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks, 400IU should be taken 1-2x per day (in addition to what your diet provides).

    Selenium — Selenium, a trace mineral essential to natural glutathione peroxidase structure and function, can increase endogenous GPX levels (much like the cysteine donor, whey protein). However, whey protein supplementation has shown to also improve performance while selenium has not. With its narrow range of toxicity, and apparent lack of efficacy, whey protein may be better and safer than additional selenium supplementation above what the diet can provide.

    Zinc — Zinc, a trace mineral, is a structural component of the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase (SOD; the cytosolic form), but it's thought to have independent antioxidant properties, including membrane and protein stabilization. Since zinc balance is often unfavorable in athletes and zinc plays a variety of roles in physiological function (beyond antioxidant benefits), we suggest consuming at least 11 mg daily but not more than the tolerable upper limit of 40 mg per day.

    Maganese — Maganese, a trace mineral, is a structural component of many enzymes and acts much like zinc in that it is a component of antioxidant enzymes (mitochondrial SOD) as well as an independent antioxidant. Maganese has been shown to decrease oxidative brain injury, LDL oxidation, and atherosclerosis. However, it is our opinion that 2-5mg per day, coming from food sources, is a sufficient intake and additional supplementation is unnecessary.

    Copper and Iron — These trace minerals have many cellular functions including antioxidant potential. However, both of these are easily oxidized and can, in fact become pro-oxidants. Therefore the recommended intake of 0.9-3.0 mg of copper and just 8-10 mg of iron (for men) should not be exceeded. This iron limit may be difficult to maintain for serious carnivores but just try not to supplement any additional iron.


    Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Flax Oil, CLA, Fish Oil) — At this point we should discuss the pro-oxidant potential of polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega 3s and 6s). Polyunsaturated fats become incorporated into cell membranes and due to their relative instability, can be easily oxidized. But, as mentioned earlier, omegas 3s (and to some extent CLA) increase endogenous levels of antioxidants and shift the body toward a better pro-oxidant: anti-oxidant ratio. In fact, some anti-cancer benefits of special polyunsaturates may even be reduced by other antioxidants. Therefore with all of the health benefits of omega 3s, their pro-oxidant status is not a big concern. We suggest that >33% of total fat intake should come from polyunsaturated fatty acids; with about half of this intake in the form of omega 3s.

    Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (Olive Oil, Canola Oil) — Monounsaturated fatty acids are more resistant to peroxidation than their polyunsaturated counterparts. In fact, data show that consumption of these fatty acids can actually reduce markers of tissue oxidation. Since monounsaturated fatty acids lower cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol, and LDL oxidation, they should be a substantial part of any sound nutritional regime. We suggest that >33% of total fat intake come from monounsaturated fatty acids as found in olive oil and peanuts.

    Whey Protein — See selenium. Antioxidant benefits come from as little as 20g of high quality, whey protein isolates per day.

    Co-Enzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone) — Ubiquinone is a naturally occurring part of the electron transport chain and antioxidant. It may act as a direct antioxidant as well as an indirect one, regenerating vitamin E. Exercising individuals have reduced levels of ubiquinone in the muscle. While CoQ10 supplementation can normalize muscle levels, the data are widely mixed with some studies showing a benefit, some showing no benefit, and others showing negative effects. Therefore we do not support the use of CoQ10 supplementation at this time.

    Alpha Lipoic Acid — ALA is an interesting molecule as it is both lipid and water-soluble and is present in mitochondrial proteins necessary for oxidative metabolism; is a cofactor for dehydrogenase enzymes; enhances glucose disposal; and can scavenge numerous ROS. Research has also shown that ALA improves mitochondrial function and therefore age associated metabolic decline. While ALA's role in glucose disposal as well as its antioxidant properties need to be clarified, we believe that perhaps 300 of ALA per day can be beneficial in terms of health and body composition.


    Although there are very little data examining the antioxidant effects of the following compounds in exercise, we decided to include them here due to their popularity as well as the benefits seen with respect to other physiological parameters. More research is certainly needed to confirm these benefits as well as to help make recommendations as to their intake. Food, herb, and drug interactions may be a concern with these compounds however, for what it's worth, these compounds do have a long history of use in other cultures.

    Milk Thistle — This herb, otherwise known as silybum marianum, contains a host of active compounds and is most well known for their hepato-protective effects (liver protection). These effects may be due to the antioxidant benefits of milk thistle in the prevention of lipid peroxidation and the protection against glutathione depletion. This herb also possesses numerous other detoxifying effects.

    Pine Bark (Pycnogenol) — Pycnogenol is the main active compound in the French maritime pine, pinus maritime. Pycnogenol has strong free radical scavenging activity. Its benefits include the regeneration of vitamin C, protection of endogenous vitamin E and glutathione from oxidative stress, and up regulating oxidant-scavenging systems.

    Grape Seed Extract — The polyphenols found in grape seeds are effective in scavenging free radicals and preventing against lipid peroxidation as well as DNA fragmentation. In addition, grape seed extract may be able to protect against ischemic-reperfusion injury. This extract may in fact be better than vitamin C and E at similar doses. Time (and more data) will tell.

    Green Tea — Green tea, in our opinion, should be a staple beverage of any dietary regimen. In addition to the thermogenic, anti-cancer and cardio-protective benefits, green tea prevents lipid peroxidation as well as aiding in the cellular defense of the ROS released during carcinogenesis.

    Ginkgo Biloba — The leaves and fruit of the ginkgo plant have been used for over 5,000 years in China. While beneficial in the treatment of peripheral artery disease and cerebral insufficiency, ginkgo may also be beneficial in scavenging free radicals generated during ischemic-reperfusion injury and inflammation.

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  2. #2
    Freak drveejay11's Avatar
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    Great post as usual Anthrax...thanx

  3. #3
    anthrax you always give good advice. alot better advice then the mods here. you got my vote for mod i dont even think the mods look at the diet board they are always in the chat board

  4. #4
    Good Broly
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    Bump for a great post.

  5. #5
    Registered User The_Mexican's Avatar
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  6. #6
    Cyborg HANSEL's Avatar
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    Thats the kind of good post I have come to expect from Ol Anthrax, was that exerpts from a Thomas Incledon article?

  7. #7
    Elite Bodybuilder Manu's Avatar
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    Great info as usual.

  8. #8
    Good Broly
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    Thumbs up


  9. #9

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    Yeah well copied and pasted, didn't realise there were so many anti-oxidant experts on T-Mag!

    Then again after reading that article having one there would be nice!!

    A very average article IMHO, that's looking rather dated when compared to recent clinical trials of some of the supplements listed.

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