Deakin University
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Antioxidant supplements and endurance exercise: Current evidence and mechanistic insights

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-08-01, 00:00 authored by Shaun MasonShaun Mason, Adam TrewinAdam Trewin, Lewan ParkerLewan Parker, Glenn WadleyGlenn Wadley
Antioxidant supplements are commonly consumed by endurance athletes to minimize exercise-induced oxidative stress, with the intention of enhancing recovery and improving performance. There are numerous commercially available nutritional supplements that are targeted to athletes and health enthusiasts that allegedly possess antioxidant properties. However, most of these compounds are poorly investigated with respect to their in vivo redox activity and efficacy in humans. Therefore, this review will firstly provide a background to endurance exercise-related redox signalling and the subsequent adaptations in skeletal muscle and vascular function. The review will then discuss commonly available compounds with purported antioxidant effects for use by athletes. N-acetyl cysteine may be of benefit over the days prior to an endurance event; while chronic intake of combined 1000 mg vitamin C + vitamin E is not recommended during periods of heavy training associated with adaptations in skeletal muscle. Melatonin, vitamin E and α-lipoic acid appear effective at decreasing markers of exercise-induced oxidative stress. However, evidence on their effects on endurance performance are either lacking or not supportive. Catechins, anthocyanins, coenzyme Q10 and vitamin C may improve vascular function, however, evidence is either limited to specific sub-populations and/or does not translate to improved performance. Finally, additional research should clarify the potential benefits of curcumin in improving muscle recovery post intensive exercise; and the potential hampering effects of astaxanthin, selenium and vitamin A on skeletal muscle adaptations to endurance training. Overall, we highlight the lack of supportive evidence for most antioxidant compounds to recommend to athletes.



Redox Biology



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Amsterdam, The Netherlands





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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2020, Elsevier