The Full Story Behind Antioxidants February 12, 2010Posted by zach in Biology, Chemistry, Exercise, Health, Nutrition, Physiology.
A recent article out of Kansas State University by Steven Copp shows that antioxidants may not be everything the media has hyped them up to be in being able to increase muscle performance. Their data shows that in certain cases when people supplement antioxidants they can actually impair muscle function. While antioxidants at certain dosages may be considered an ergogenic aid, there has been a large amount of media hype which has attributed to their recent growth.
Copp found that antioxidants can have an effect on the blood flow in the muscles. This is possible by antioxidants decreasing the concentration of oxidants in our body. This all sounds good, but hydrogen peroxide which is naturally occurring pro-oxidant in our body is a vasodilator. In short when you supplement large quantities of antioxidants you are drastically decreasing oxidant concentration in your body, this in turn can cause your veins to constrict from a lack of vasodilators, which limits the amount of oxygen to your muscles. This effect can lead to changes in key signaling mechanisms that can also have adverse effects on functioning muscles.
With all this being said it’s not that you should stop eating antioxidant rich foods. Researchers are still looking at the full physiological effect of antioxidants on exercise training. What the researchers are saying is you have to consider your antioxidant pro-oxidant balance. Next time you are at the store and see antioxidant supplements claiming to have extraordinary effects, you may want to look at the science behind what you are buying before you buy a supplement that has a null effect on your muscle performance.