VIENNA, Austria—Ultra-endurance athletes should take care to ensure they’re keeping their antioxidant levels high to enhance recovery and avoid possible DNA damage (Br J Nutr. ePub 19 July 2010. DOI: 10.1017/S0007114510001856). Researchers from the University of Vienna investigated the changes of endogenous and exogenous antioxidants in response to an Ironman triathlon, looking at the relevance of the antioxidant response to blood lipids and DNA, and whether there were particularly susceptible times during recovery where altered antioxidant status made an impact. The team collected blood from 42 well-trained male athletes two days before the race, immediately after the race, and then one, five and 19 days later.
Immediately after the race, there were significant increases in levels of vitamin C and alpha-tocopherol, and both Trolox equivalent capacity and ORAC assays. Exercise-induced changes in plasma antioxidant capacity were associated with changes in vitamin C and uric acid levels. They also saw a significant inverse correlation between ORAC levels and indices of oxidatively damaged DNA immediately and one day post-race, suggesting the acute antioxidant response had a protective role in the body. Further, one day after the race, there were significant decreases seen in carotenoids and gamma-tocopherol, suggesting antioxidant intake during the first 24 hours of recovery may be particularly critical for such athletes.