Vitamin E

Most of what was said about Vitamin C above will be similar for Vitamin E. As with C, people are familiar with vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol, beta-tocopherol, etc.) as a simple vitamin and antioxidant needed for optimal health.

Vitamin E is the major fat soluble antioxidant in the human body and plays a wide variety of roles in metabolism, ranging from immunity to fertility to hormone production. As with all antioxidants, Vitamin E works in conjunction with other antioxidants such as Vitamin C, glutathione, selenium and beta-carotines, as well as key antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase.

As mentioned in the Vitamin C section: Although exercise has been shown to improve antioxidant mechanisms, one well known side effect is that it raises oxidative stress and increases free radical production.

Defenses can be overwhelmed over time and the risks of increased free radical production is well known, such as damage to DNA, reduced immunity, susceptibility to upper respiratory infections and other potential health problems best avoided. When we factor in our various life styles and environment (e.g., pollution, ozone, etc) the issue of free radical production and oxidative stress is made more important.

Some studies have reported that supplementation with vitamin E and/ or antioxidant mixtures, can reduce oxidative stress from intense exercise and trained athletes who received antioxidant supplements show evidence of reduced oxidative stress. Studies with Vitamin E that have looked directly at performance have been contradictory, with most studies finding no direct effects on performance.

Although moderate exercise has been shown to improve immunity extreme and prolonged exercise has been shown to suppress the immune system. This is commonly called "over training syndrome" or OTS and is common with athletes who train too long, too hard, and too often. OTS is also found in elite military groups such as the US Special Forces who are forced to train under extreme conditions.

Vitamin E has been shown to reduce oxidative stress. In particular, because Vitamin E is fat soluble, it helps to prevent something called exercise-induced lipid peroxidation.

For example, one recent study evaluated the effects of 5 months of Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) supplementation on physical performance during aerobic exercise training in 30 top-class cyclists. The study found the plasma Vitamin E concentration increased significantly in the vitamin E-supplemented group, whereas the placebo group showed a trend toward decrease.

The study also found statistically significant drops in biochemical indices of oxidative stress in the group getting the vitamin E. However, they did not find direct improvements in performance in the vitamin E group over that of placebo.

Some studies suggest Vitamin E can prevent the decline in immunity after intense exercise. However, it should be noted that not all studies agree on these effects of vitamin E or antioxidants in general on immunity.

Athletes should not view taking additional vitamin E as a direct performance enhancer per se, but as a long term preventative nutrient essential to long term health. Good health is after all a prerequisite for performance over the long run. Clearly, adequate vitamin E intakes are important for long-term performance, although studies don't find positive effects on short-term performance.

Exactly what the optimal intake of vitamin E is unclear at this time, but there appears to be no health risks associate with taking higher amounts than the recommend RDA. Individual intakes of vitamin E vary dramatically, with most studies using between 200IU to 800IU per day. Although there is not an optimal dose known at this time, 400IU to 800IU appears safe and effective.

For general health and well being, Vitamin E gets a thumb's up but for any anabolic or performance enhancing effects, it gets a thumb's down.

Takanami, Y. and H. Iwane, et al. "Vitamin E supplementation and endurance exercise: are there benefits?" Sports Medicine 29/2 (2000), p. 73-83.

Powers, S. K. and K. Hamilton. "Antioxidants and exercise," Clinical Sports Medicine 18/3 (1999), p. 525-36.

Balakrishnan, S. D. and C. V. Anuradha. "Exercise, depletion of antioxidants and antioxidant manipulation," Cell. Biochem. Funct. 16/4 (1998), p. 269-75.

Rokitzki, L and E. Logemann, et al. "Alpha-Tocopherol supplementation in racing cyclists during extreme endurance training," Int. Jour. Sport Nutr. 4/3 (1994), p. 253-64.

Push Your Limits

Push Your Limits

Get All The Support And Guidance You Need To Be A Success At Getting In Top Shape... Today. This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To Unleash Your Body Power and Increase Your Body Endurance.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment