How Do Vitamins Affect Your Workout?
“Many people take vitamins as part of their daily fitness regimens having heard that antioxidants aid physical recovery and amplify the impact of workouts,” said Gretchen Reynolds in the New York Times this week. “But in another example of science undercutting deeply held assumptions, several new experiments find that antioxidant supplements may actually reduce the benefits of training.”
The most recent study in question, published in Physiology, indeed found “supplementation with high dosages of vitamin C and E appears to diminish some of the endurance training–induced adaptations….” Fortunately, “though few experiments in people had actually examined the precise physiological impacts,” previous research has found that certain nutrients may support the body during different types of exercise, for example:
- Vitamin C has been seen to reduce pain and speed muscle strength recovery after intense exercise.
- Some studies have found vitamin E improves recovery in high-altitude exercise performance—though other studies have not found this benefit.
So is supplementing a good idea or not?
With so much conflicting information out there, “It’s always wise to understand how vitamins and minerals affect your body, and why—or why not—you might want to add them to your self-care,” says Alan Gaby, MD, Aisle7 Chief Science Editor. While scientists continue to investigate and debate, athletes (and everyone else) should avoid the one-size-fits-all approach to supplementation and look for nutrients with some evidence supporting specific performance goals.
Before making any changes to your current regimen it’s best to talk to your doctor or health professional. You can also review third-party resources like Aisle7 Online (found at your favorite retailer’s website) that summarize the latest supplement science.