Can Antioxidants Impair Muscle Function?
Researchers at Kansas State’s Cardiorespiratory Exercise Laboratory have been studying sports nutrition on how to improve oxygen delivery to the skeletal muscle during physical activity by using antioxidants. Antioxidants, naturally found in foods, can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to the body. Their findings show that sometimes antioxidants can impair muscle function.
People don’t realize that the antioxidant and pro-oxidant balance is really delicate. One of the things they found in the research is that you can’t just give a larger dose and presume that there will be some sort of beneficial muscle effect. In fact, you can actually make a problem worse.
They conducted various studies associated with how muscles control blood flow and the effects of different dosages and types of antioxidants. Abnormalities in the circulatory system, such as those that result from ageing or a disease, like chronic heart failure, can impair oxygen delivery to the skeletal muscle and increased fatigue during physical activity.
The researchers are studying the effects they could have in the process. The study found that antioxidant therapy removes hydrogen peroxide and other naturally occurring vasodilators. Vasodilators are compounds that help open blood vessels. When you remove them, you impair the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to the muscle and it may not work properly.
Antioxidants are largely thought to produce better health, but their studies have shown that they can actually suppress key signalling mechanisms that are necessary for muscle to function effectively.
A Cautionary Note
A cautionary note that before we start to advise people get more, we need to understand more about how they function in physiological systems and circumstances like exercise.
Researchers will continue to explore antioxidants and the effects of exercise training. Their studies are looking at how these can help individuals combat the decreased mobility and muscle function that comes with ageing and diseases like heart failure.