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Do People that Exercise Need Extra Anti-Oxidants?

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Do People that Exercise Need Extra Anti-Oxidants?

Every time we walk, talk or even breathe we create reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS is a normal part of the body’s chemistry, but too many can cause cellular damage! Research and class lectures explain that exercise increases both anti-inflammatory and inflammatory pathways.1,2,5 Regular exercise, in sum, lowers total levels of CRP, TNF-A, IL-6(inflammatory) and increases IL-4 and IL-10 (anti-inflammatory). 1,2 Eating foods that are high in antioxidants will help lower inflammation, but what about chronic overtraining? This leads to more inflammation/ROS which poses the question, is food enough?

Do Athletes Need Even More?

The harder an athlete is exercising, the more micro and macro nutrients the athlete will need in order to combat the damaging effects of ROS. The base of any client’s diets should start with real whole foods, especially plant-based!  Blach et al3 explains that “food delivers thousands of bioactive components; all within the food matrix that maximizes their availability and effectiveness,” this is absolutely critical in competitive athletes.Most of the classmate’s research concurs that real foods significantly overshadow even the best supplement regime. Therefore, clients should always be evaluated on a well-balanced diet with supplementation if need be.

What About Supplements?

However, not all research shuns supplementation.  Dr. Hyman4 explained that supplements do have their place because of issues such as genetically altered food, and fertilized, nutrient-depleted soil that is covered with petrochemicals. Furthermore, a long storage time after harvesting, picking prior to ripening, and transporting across the entire country are all reasons why supplements have a place in the diet. 

Taghiyar et al5 studies looked at the effects of vitamin C and vitamin E supplementation on both muscle damage and oxidative stress. 64 trained female athletes were studied during the four-week randomized double-blind clinical trial. Athletes ingested one of the following 250 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU vitamin E or a controlled placebo. The subjects were then measured for muscle damage before and after the interventions. The results concluded that vitamin C and vitamin E supplementation helps to reduce muscle damage markers of aerobic exercise.

Can I Find A Balance Between Both Whole Foods and Supplements?

In summary, your body can fight off ROS, but if you are over training, under eating, overstressed, under sleeping and or not getting enough nutrients in your diet, I feel that using a high-quality low dose multi-vitamin mineral complex is warranted.  I am on the edge of over training so I use a multi-vitamin mineral complex with a suggested dosage of eight pills; I take three total divided into three different meals.


  1. Bidwell, A. Inflammation and Exercise. NTR 5501 Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition, week 11. Lecture notes PDF.
  2. Golbidi S, Badran M, Laher I. Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects of exercise in diabetic patients. Experimental diabetics research, volume 2012 ID 94168. PDF
  3. Blach J F, Blach PA. Prescription for Nutritional Healing second edition.  1997 Avery Publishing group, Garden City Park, NY
  4. Hyman M. The Blood Sugar Solution. New York, NY Little, Brown and Company. 2012

Taghiyar et al. the effects of vitamin C and vitamin E supplementation on muscle damage and oxidative stress in female athletes: a clinical trial. Int J Prev Med. 2013 April; 4(Suppl 1): S16–S23


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Dr. Jack Kunkel offers alternative medical services that provides custom and effective solutions for your body and mind by using a three-step strategic approach based on key pillars such as nutrition, exercise, and herbs & whole food supplements.