Antioxidants for Athletic Performance

As oxygen usage increases, so too does the production of free radicals.

antioxidants fruit Antioxidants are a popular and effective group of nutrients that include vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and help prevent cellular damage. As part of the normal oxidation of food to convert it into energy, free radicals are formed. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons. Because they have a negative electrical charge, these electrons are drawn to the positively charged protons in nearby cells. This process of “stealing” a proton from a cell’s nucleus can cause cellular and DNA damage, possibly leading to cancers and age related diseases.

Athletic performance and other types of movement increase the rate of blood flow to muscles, which, in turn, delivers more oxygen and other nutrients to the body. As oxygen usage increases, so too does the production of free radicals. You cannot avoid creating free radicals in your body, making protective antioxidants that much more important.

Important antioxidants include:

• Vitamin E
• Vitamin C
• Selenium
• Zinc
• Manganese

Apart from their other benefits for cardiovascular health, muscle building, and disease prevention, antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries are full of nutrients that provide elementary particles that pair off with free radicals, preventing them from causing cell damage. Antioxidants appear naturally in many fruits and vegetables, as well as in nuts and grains. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of whole fruits and vegetables will help you get a steady supply of antioxidants.

In addition to eating foods rich in antioxidants, it is a good idea to increase your intake as part of a daily supplementation regimen, especially when you exercise regularly. Antioxidant supplements can complement your diet as well as keep your antioxidant levels steady during times when you cannot eat your usual balanced diet, such as when traveling for work or competition.

Benefits of Antioxidants

Preventing Muscle Damage – The main benefit of antioxidant supplementation is that it reduces or prevents cellular damage following strenuous exercise. A “cocktail” of antioxidants neutralizes free radical molecules and promotes the healing and growth of muscle tissue during the recovery phase.

Improved Recovery – Many experts in nutritional medicine think that Vitamin E is also involved in the recovery process that follows exercise. Currently, the amount of Vitamin E needed to produce these effects is unknown, but the prevailing opinion is that diet may supply enough Vitamin E for most athletes.

Dietary Antioxidant Sources

• Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale
• Broccoli and brussel sprouts
• Berries, cherries, and red grapes
• Cranberries, apples, and strawberries
• Citrus fruit
• Vegetable oils, nuts, and avocados
• Red wine
• Dark chocolate
• Green tea, cinnamon, turmeric, and curcumin

Recommended Daily Dose
Always consult with your personal physician before starting or stopping any regimen if you are taking prescription or other medication.

• Vitamin C – 2,000-4,000 mg
• Vitamin E – 1,000 IU
• Carotenoids – 25,000 IU
• Zinc – 30 mg
• Selenium – 200 mcg
• Curcumin – 400-1,200 mg
• Green Tea Extract – 100-750 mg
• Resveratrol – 100-200 mg
• Alpha Lipoic Acid – 300-600 mg
• Pomegranate Extract – 1,000 mg

Article by Dr. Louis Ignarro

Learn more about supplementation for athletic performance by ordering the book written by Nobel Laureate in Medicine Dr. Louis Ignarro and Naturopathic Physician Dr. Andrew Myers Health Is Wealth: Performance Nutrition for the Competitive Edge

Antioxidant Protection - Pre Match Meals


Anti-oxidants For Athletic Performance

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