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Australian researchers find vitamins C and E benefit olympic athletes.

LA GRANGE, Ill. -- Olympic athletes who consume large quantities of oxygen during training and competition can benefit from supplementation with vitamins C and E, according to sports researchers who presented their new findings at the recent American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) meeting in Dallas.

Tissue damage experienced by endurance athletes during intensive training could be lessened and recovery from this training damage could be speeded by supplementation with vitamins C and E, said exercise physiologist Ian Gillam. Gillam conducted the study at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, Australia.

Vitamin C and E supplementation helps to optimize the elite athlete's training regimen, permitting more exercise with less recovery time. This could boost an athlete's performance by a fraction of a second -- enough to win "the gold" at an Olympic event.

At a panel discussion of "Antioxidants and the Elite Athlete" convened during the ACSM meeting, researchers concluded that antioxidant supplementation is of particular benefit for athletes who participate in marathon running, long-distance cycling, cross-country skiing, Iron Man competitions, and other exhaustive events. But they noted that antioxidant supplements are also important for the so-called "weekend warriors," who break the routine of a sedentary lifestyle with sporadic bouts of athletics that put their bodies under serious oxidative stress. These individuals are in greater need of nutritional antioxidants than the athlete who exercises regularly because regular exercise bolsters the body's intrinsic antioxidant system.

Oxidative stress occurs when there's an upset in the normal balance between antioxidants and products of oxygen metabolism called free radicals. An excess of free radicals can be produced by heavy exercise as well as exposure to pollutants or radiation from the sun and a number of other environmental factors. When antioxidants are in short supply, free radicals attack the body's cells and do "oxidative damage." But if there is an adequate level of antioxidants, free radicals are quenched before they can attack delicate cell structures.

The new Gillam and Telford research adds to the growing body of evidence that supplementation with antioxidant nutrients (including vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene) can provide protection against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Free radical damage has been linked to the development of cancers, heart disease, and a number of other degenerative diseases.
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jun 22, 1992
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