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Do Antioxidant Vitamins Prevent Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage? A Systematic Review

Faculty of Sports Sciences and Physiotherapy, Universidad Europea de Madrid, 28670 Madrid, Spain
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Valencia, 46003 Valencia, Spain
INCLIVA Biomedical Research Institute, 46003 Valencia, Spain
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, New Orleans, LA 70121, USA
Ochsner Clinical School, The University of Queensland School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA 70121, USA
Section of Clinical Biochemistry, University of Verona, 37129 Verona, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Antioxidants 2020, 9(5), 372;
Received: 19 March 2020 / Revised: 27 April 2020 / Accepted: 28 April 2020 / Published: 29 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Health Outcomes of Antioxidants and Oxidative Stress)
Free radicals produced during exercise play a role in modulating cell signaling pathways. High doses of antioxidants may hamper adaptations to exercise training. However, their benefits are unclear. This review aims to examine whether vitamin C (VitC) and/or vitamin E (VitE) supplementation (SUP) prevents exercise-induced muscle damage. The PubMed, Web of Science, Medline, CINAHL, and SPORTDiscus databases were searched, and 21 articles were included. Four studies examined the effects of acute VitC SUP given pre-exercise: in one study, lower CK levels post-exercise was observed; in three, no difference was recorded. In one study, acute VitE SUP reduced CK activity 1 h post-exercise in conditions of hypoxia. In three studies, chronic VitE SUP did not reduce CK activity after an exercise session. Chronic VitE SUP did not reduce creatine kinase (CK) concentrations after three strength training sessions, but it was effective after 6 days of endurance training in another study. Chronic SUP with VitC + E reduced CK activity post-exercise in two studies, but there was no such effect in four studies. Finally, three studies described the effects of chronic VitC + E SUP and long-term exercise, reporting dissimilar results. To conclude, although there is some evidence of a protective effect of VitC and/or VitE against exercise-induced muscle damage, the available data are not conclusive. View Full-Text
Keywords: antioxidant vitamins; vitamin C; vitamin E; muscle damage antioxidant vitamins; vitamin C; vitamin E; muscle damage
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Martinez-Ferran, M.; Sanchis-Gomar, F.; Lavie, C.J.; Lippi, G.; Pareja-Galeano, H. Do Antioxidant Vitamins Prevent Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage? A Systematic Review. Antioxidants 2020, 9, 372.

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