Full Capacity

So...this might be not be your thing. But I've been writing for school this morning and realized I'm bummed to have been neglecting the little blog-o this last busy month. So if you are active and like anti-oxidants (so many reasons to love them) read on. If not, I'll make it up to you.

For endurance athletes and recreational exercisers who are training for an event lasting more than an hour, there are a few nutritional keys that can be assessed using lab values. (When was the last time you got your labs checked? Cue to action...) As far as blood goes, antioxidant levels are of particular interest to help one function at full capacity.

A 2010 study by Neubauer, et al, looked at blood levels of vitamin A (think carrots), vitamin C (think oranges), vitamin E (think whole grains and nuts), and the changes the occur after exercise. Blood was collected from forty-two well-trained male athletes 2 days pre-race, immediately post-race, and 1, 5 and 19 days after an their endurance race. A few key findings were made:

(1) Immediately post-race, vitamin C,  vitamin E, the iron reducing ability of blood, and the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assays increased significantly. Exercise-induced changes in the plasma antioxidant capacity were associated with changes in uric acid, bilirubin and vitamin C.

(2) Significant inverse correlations between these oxygen radical levels and indices of oxidatively damaged DNA immediately and 1 day post-race suggest a protective role of the short-term antioxidant responses in DNA stability.


(3) Significant decreases in vitamin A and vitamin E 1 day post-race show that the antioxidant intake during the first 24 hours of recovery following an acute ultra-endurance exercise requires specific attention.

Bottom line: the first 24 hours after exercise are incredibly important. Exercise induced changes in lab values play off each other (changes in antioxidant capacity may cause changes in other lab values like uric acid and bilirubin...which jacks the system). So, a diverse and well-balanced diet to maintain a strong physiological antioxidant status is key to speed recovery and prevent DNA damage.

(For your pleasure, an old-school table from the USDA of top foods to eat to improve antioxidants status...delicious!)



Neubauer, O., Reichhold, S., Nics L., Hoelz, C., Valentini, J. Stadlmayr, C., Knasmu, S, and Wagner, K. (2010) Antioxidant responses to an acute ultra-endurance exercise: impact on DNA stability and indications for an increased need for nutritive antioxidants in the early recovery phase. British Journal of Nutrition 104: 1129-1138