Antioxidants may block benefits of exercise

Vitamin supplements may undo some of the beneficial effects of exercise

Woman exercising
Woman exercising

Vitamin supplements may undo some of the beneficial effects of exercise

Taking antioxidant supplements such as vitamins C and E after exercise may block some of the beneficial effects of the workout.

During vigorous exercise the body produces free radicals, which can damage cells and have been implicated in cancer, heart disease and accelerated ageing.

Some keen gym goers take vitamins C and E – antioxidants that mop up free radicals – after their workout, but new research suggests this may do more harm than good.

German scientists now believe that free radicals may have beneficial effects, such as boosting energy levels and buffeting against diabetes. These effects are blocked by the antioxidant supplements.

The free radicals may increase sensitivity to insulin, which is lost in type 2 diabetes, according to Dr Michael Ristow, of the University of Jena. This sensitivity can also balance blood sugar levels, which boosts energy.

Nutritionists warn that vitamin supplements still have a role to play, despite the new research. "Antioxidants protect the cells in your body from damage and therefore help to reduce the risk of certain diseases such as cancer," Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum of the British Nutrition Foundation told the BBC.

"But you should not consume high doses on a regular basis as this can have negative effects on your body."


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