Antioxidants (beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E) have been promoted to enhance performance and to reduce the muscle damage that routinely occurs from exercise.

Research Results:

The work on the effect of antioxidants on performance has been mixed.

Performance Studies:

In general, supplements do not seem to provide additional benefits for athletic performance in well-nourished individuals. In vitamin C-deficient individuals, physical performance was improved with vitamin C supplementation. Some studies have shown that vitamin E supplementation improves performance at altitudes of 5000 and 15,000 feet.

Muscle Damage Studies:

Only small studies on antioxidants and muscle damage have been reported, and they have not been well-controlled. Some studies suggested that vitamin E reduced certain byproducts that are "markers" for muscle damage. Others found that vitamin C alleviated muscle soreness. More research is needed to confirm the role of antioxidants in exercise-induced muscle damage.

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