Exercise & AntiOxidants


An interesting health article today discussed vitamins and exercise.  Though experts are always urging us to eat a well-balanced diet in order to receive all our daily nutrients without the use of supplements, it is not an easy task.  I know people who eat healthily, but I really don’t know anyone who eats everything that is recommended in order to get all their vitamins and minerals.  Most of us are set in our ways as far as diet is concerned, with very little variation in our meals.  When the diet consists of the same thing day after day, it is likely that many nutrients are missing and many others are in excess.


I had never heard of people taking vitamins, especially C and E, after exercising in order to reduce what’s called “oxidative stress”.  This oxidative stress is created by harmful chemicals, called “free radicals”, which are released when we exercise.  Free radicals are believed to cause cancer and heart disease, amongst other things.  Vitamins C and E are antioxidants, which block these free radicals and protect the body from its damage.  Interesting, logical concepts, though I had never heard about doing this.


But scientists have now found that antioxidants after exercising may not be good.  Apparently, these free radicals can reduce the risk of diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity.  Most diabetes caused by obesity is related to insulin insensitivity.  That is, the body cannot respond to insulin, so the blood sugars remain elevated.  Muscles, when they respond to insulin, take glucose up and use that as energy.  When they don’t respond, the muscles have to use other sources of energy.  Antioxidants block these good effects of free radicals.


As always in health, there is a delicate balance that needs to be preserved.  Vitamins are good, but they should not be taken in excess.  The study highlights some negative effects of vitamins, but it only talked about vitamins taken after exercising.  There was no comment about its effects if taken at other times.  Will it help protect against free radicals in cancer and heart disease or harmful in diabetes?  Also, it did not discuss threshold levels that can help or harm.