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Certain Antioxidants May Improve Exercise Performance

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mixed-berries-runners-diet-art Antioxidants are generally regarded as an important dietary component, with many people consuming antioxidant-rich beverages, foods and supplements. Still, the effect of antioxidants on exercise performance remains heavily debated and unclear.

In an effort to investigate this relationship, a recently published study examined the impact of antioxidant supplements on exercise performance in mice.

The Design of the Study

In addition to examining exercise performance, the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, also evaluated muscle function in the mice as well as training adaptation. One group of mice was given an antioxidant cocktail consisting of alpha lipoic acid, vitamin E, and coenzyme Q10, while the other group received placebo-control diets.  The two groups of mice were divided further into those that were trained through eight weeks of running on a treadmill, and those that were untrained. The mice were then evaluated based on their running performance, respiratory capacity, and muscle adaptation.

The Study’s Findings

Interestingly, the study found the trained mice that were given the antioxidant cocktail did not demonstrate any exercise performance changes following their supplement. However, the untrained female mice that received these antioxidant supplements demonstrated improved running performance, increased respiratory capacity and an increased expression of mitochondrial proteins. The results of the study, therefore, indicated some gender specificity.

The public continues to consume large quantities of dietary antioxidant supplements to compensate for their diet, treat disorders, prevent diseases, and improve overall health and wellness. Now, in light of the findings of this study, there is reason to consider antioxidants as a potential source of improving exercise performance, particularly in women. Specifically, the consumption of antioxidants during endurance training could result in beneficial muscle adaptations and ultimately improve performance.

While the outcome of this study is encouraging, it is clearly only a first step toward a better understanding of the role of antioxidants in exercise performance and muscle function. Much more research and information is needed in order to better understand this relationship. Nevertheless, a potential improvement in exercise performance adds yet another benefit to consider in our ongoing understanding of antioxidants.


Derek is a technical writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the health care field, having first earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware. He is a contributing author on a number of textbooks in the medical field, ran a nuclear cardiology licensing course, and has written a variety of other pieces from online training courses to medical software manuals. Derek pursues his personal interest in health and wellness by playing multiple sports and running marathons. An insatiable traveler, he spent 16 months working and living abroad while traveling through South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.


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