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Should We Skip Taking Vitamin C  on Heavy Workout Days?

Advertisers have jumped on marketing antioxidants for everything from weight loss to defying againg to maintaining a healthy body. Do antioxidants actually help our bodies all the time or do they only help under certain circumstances?  Recent findings suggest that some of the good effects of exercise are actually negated when antioxidants are taken.  What does this mean? Should we keep exercising or should we switch to antioxidants?  What exactly is the relationship of antioxidants exercise? Can exercising cancel antioxidants?

Do Antioxidants Blunt the Effects of Exercise?

Antioxidants are substances or vitamins that protect the cells in our bodies from molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are created when our bodies break down certain foods or by certain environmental things such as cigarette smoke and radiation. These free radicals then run free in our bodies breaking down good cells. Researchers believe that these free radicals may play a big role in cancer and heart disease. Some of the antioxidants that can protect against this damage are:

  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Lutein
  • Beta-carotene
  • Lycopene
  • Selenium

If antioxidants are all vitamins and minerals, how can they negate exercise? The relationship of antioxidants exercise is still being studied but new research suggests that free radicals are needed by the body to prevent cell damage during exercising.  Exercise actually creates free radicals in the body which helps to increase our and thereby helping to ward off diabetes.  Vitamins E and C block the body's ability to make free radicals during exercise and therefore block the body's ability to develop a sensitivity to insulin.  This can be a bad thing if the reason you are exercising is to reduce your risk to diabetes.  So far researchers have only studied the effects of Vitamins E and C on exercise so other antioxidants may prove to not have a negative effect on exercise. Do the effects of antioxidants on exercise mean we should stop taking antioxidants or stop exercising?

It seems that for the average person who isn't at risk for diabetes, antioxidants are extremely beneficial.  In fact antioxidants are supposed to help the body fight diabetes so they may end up being more beneficial than exercise in this battle. While researchers are still studying the effects of different antioxidants on different diseases, we have long been told that our bodies need a certain amount of many different vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy body.

When we look back at what our ancestors used to eat, fresh fruits and grains that were rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals, it didn't seem to harm their bodies. Also they used to get a lot more exercise then we do today because they didn't have cars to drive them everywhere. They may have had shorter lives due to the physical stress on their bodies but it doesn't seem that they had as many different diseases as we face today. The average American woman probably doesn't eat anywhere near the level of fresh fruits and grains that our ancestors ate. To top it off we eat more foods that create free radicals in our systems and we are exposed to more environmental agents that cause free radials. It seems that the abuse we put our bodies through on a daily basis is more harmful than simply exercising or not.

A common sense look at antioxidants exercise would say that if you are at risk for diabetes then you should talk to your doctor first. If you are not at risk for diabetes then the benefits of antioxidants and exercise currently seem to outweigh any negative effects of combining the two. Of course the most common piece of advice is to always talk to your doctor or nutritionist before starting a new diet or exercise program being that we are all built a little different and will require different balances of antioxidants and exercise.

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