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Vitamins May Curb Exercise Benefits

Vitamins May Curb Exercise Benefits

Taking supplements like vitamins C and E, could reverse the health benefits of exercising…

New research conducted by scientists in Germany and Boston, suggest that antioxidants like vitamin C and E, may reverse the benefits of exercise.

Exercise is key to maintaining a healthy body. It provides us with many beneficial effects to our overall health, including the body’s sensitivity to insulin. “Get more exercise” is often the first recommendation given by doctors to people at risk of diabetes.

But when we exercise, the body metabolizes glucose by combining its carbon atoms with oxygen to produce energy. In the process, a small amount of highly reactive oxygen molecules escape and begin to damage the body’s tissues.

This oxidative damage is know to increase with age, so much so that some experts believe it to be the main cause of the body’s decline.

The body has its own defense against oxidization, but this is not always enough. For this reason, consuming an abundance of antioxidants in order to aid the body, is generally though of as good practice.

Vitamins May Curb Exercise Benefits

Researchers, led by Dr. Michael Ristow, a nutritionist at the University of Jena, Germany, tested this theory by having men exercise, giving them moderate doses of vitamins C and E, then monitoring their sensitivity to insulin and levels of the body’s natural defenses to oxidative damage.

The team found that the men taking vitamins had no improvement in insulin sensitivity and almost no activation of the body’s natural defenses against oxidization.

The researchers speculate that the reactive oxygen molecules, the byproducts of exercise, are a natural trigger for both these responses. And by taking vitamins, which efficiently destroy the reactive oxygen, the body’s natural response to exercise is short circuited.

“If you exercise to promote health, you shouldn’t take large amounts of antioxidants,” Dr. Ristow said. A second message of the study, he said, “is that antioxidants in general cause certain effects that inhibit otherwise positive effects of exercise, dieting and other interventions.”

The effect of vitamins on exercise and glucose metabolism “is really quite significant,” said Dr. C. Ronald Kahn of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, a co-author of the report. “If people are trying to exercise, this is blocking the effects of insulin on the metabolic response.”

People should note that the advice does not apply to fruits and vegetables, Dr. Ristow said; even though they are high in antioxidants, the many other substances they contain are thought to outweigh any negative effect.

Although the research may offer new information into the link between what we eat and how it affects us, Andrew Shao of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade association of dietary supplement makers, noted that more well designed studies like this one should be carried out:

“I wouldn’t change recommendations for anyone based on one study…

“This is one small piece of the puzzle.”

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