European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 93, Issue 1–2, pp 108–115 | Cite as

Vitamin E supplementation, exercise and lipid peroxidation in human participants

  • P. Viitala
  • I. J. NewhouseEmail author
Original Article


The theoretical benefits of using antioxidant vitamin supplements to quench oxygen free radicals appear large. The major function of vitamin E is to work as a chain-breaking antioxidant in a fat soluble environment so as to protect polyunsaturated fatty acids within membrane phospholipids and in plasma lipoproteins. The purpose of this critical review was to determine whether vitamin E supplementation decreases exercise-induced lipid peroxidation in humans. If vitamin E alone is ineffective, researchers can turn their efforts to other individual antioxidants or combinations. Using the search words “vitamin E”, “exercise”, “lipid peroxidation” and “antioxidant”, all relevant studies since 1985 were identified through a computer search using Pub Med and Sport Discuss databases. Additional articles were reviewed from the reference list of the retrieved articles. Nine vitamin E studies met the criteria of using human participants in an experimental design. Studies were analyzed to determine the strength of evidence regarding the efficacy of vitamin E supplementation. Strength of evidence was based on: (1) number of participants, (2) intensity of the exercise test, (3) type of research design, (4) other controls, (5) the biomarker of lipid peroxidation, (6) the timing of the biomarker measurement, (7) measurement of vitamin E status and (8) correction for plasma volume change. Overall, the six studies showing no effect of vitamin E supplementation had a much higher total score (67) in comparison to the three studies showing positive effects (38). Although limitations have plagued much of the research, vitamin E supplementation does not appear to decrease exercise-induced lipid peroxidation in humans.


Antioxidant Exercise Lipid peroxidation Vitamin E 


  1. Allesio H (1993) Exercise-induced oxidative stress. Med Sci Sports Exerc 25:218–224PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Burton G, Joyce W, Ingold K (1983) Is vitamin E the only lipid-soluble, chain breaking antioxidant in human blood plasma and erythrocyte membranes? Arch Biochem Biophys 221:12114–12119Google Scholar
  3. Burton GW, Ingold KU (1986) Application of the principles of physical organic chemistry to the exploration of its structure and function. Acc Chem Res 19:194–201Google Scholar
  4. Dekkers J, Van Coornen L, Kemper H (1996) The role of antioxidant vitamins and enzymes in the prevention of exercise-induced muscle damage. Sports Med 3:213–238Google Scholar
  5. Dragon I, Dinu V, Dristea E, Mohora N, Ploesteanu E, Stroescu V (1991) Studies regarding the effects of an antioxidant compound in top athletes. Rev Roum Physiol 28:105–108PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Duthie G, Arthur J, James W (1991) Effects of smoking and vitamin E on blood antioxidant status. Am J Clin Nutr 53 [Suppl]:1061S-1063SGoogle Scholar
  7. Eiserich J, van der Vliet A, Handelman G, Halliwell B, Cross C (1995) Dietary antioxidants and cigarette smoke-induced bio-molecular damage: a complex interaction. Am J Clin Nutr 62 [Suppl]:1490S-1500SGoogle Scholar
  8. Esterbauer H., Striegl G, Puhl H, Rotheneder M (1989) Continuous monitoring of in vitro oxidation of human low density lipoprotein. Free Radic Res Commun 6:67–75PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Frei B, Stocker R, Ames B (1988) Antioxidant defences and lipid peroxidation in human blood plasma. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 85:9748–9752PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Galeotti T, Borrello S, Masotti L (eds) (1990) Oxygen radicals: systemic events and disease processes. Thur, BaselGoogle Scholar
  11. Halliwell B, Chirico, S. (1993) Lipid peroxidation: its mechanism, measurement and significance. Am J Clin Nutr 57 [Suppl]:715S-725SGoogle Scholar
  12. Harris M, McMurrray R (1995) Vitamin E supplementation, delayed onset muscular soreness and lipid peroxidation. Masters Thesis, University of North Carolina, Chapel HillGoogle Scholar
  13. Hoshino E, Shariff R, Van Gossum A, Allard J, Pichard C, Kurian R, Jebhoy K (1990) Vitamin E suppresses increased lipid peroxidation in cigarette smokers. J Parenter Enteral Nutr 14:300–305Google Scholar
  14. Institute of Medicine (2000) Dietary reference intakes for vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and carotenoids. National Academy Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  15. Kanter M, Nolte L, Holloszy J (1993) Effects of an antioxidant mixture on lipid peroxidation at rest and post exercise. J Appl Physiol 74:965–969PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Kalra J, Chaudhary A, Prasad K (1991) Increased production of oxygen free radicals in cigarette smokers. Int J Exp Pathol 72:1–7PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Lovlin R, Cottle W, Pyke I, Kavanagh M, Belcastro A (1987) Are indices of free radical damage related to exercise intensity. Eur J Appl Physiol 56:313–316Google Scholar
  18. Maughan R, Donnelly A, Gleeson M, Whiting P, Walker K, Clough P (1989) Delayed onset muscle damage and lipid peroxidation in man after a downhill run. Muscle Nerve 12:332–336PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Maxwell S, Jakeman P, Thomason-Leguen C, Thorpe G (1993) Changes in plasma antioxidant status during eccentric exercise and the effect on vitamin supplementation. Free Radic Res Commun 19:191–202PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Meydani M, Evans J, Handelman G (1993) Protective effect of vitamin E on exercise induced oxidative damage in young and older adults. Am J Physiol 264:R992-R998PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. McBride J, Kraemer W, Triplett-McBride T, Sebastianelli W (1997) Effect of resistance exercise on free radical production. Med Sci Sport Exerc 30:67–72Google Scholar
  22. Niki E (1997) Action of ascorbic acid as a scavenger of active and stable oxygen radicals. Nutr Cancer 15:251–252Google Scholar
  23. Packer L (1984) Vitamin E, physical exercise, and tissue damage in animals. Med Biol (Helsinki) 62:105–109Google Scholar
  24. Rokitzki L, Logemann E, Huber G, Keck E, Keul J (1994) α tcopherol supplementation in racing cyclists during extreme endurance training. Int J Sport Nutr 4:253–264PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Sacheck JM, Milbury PE, Cannon JG, Roubenoff R, Blumberg JB (2003) Effect of vitamin E and eccentric exercise on selected biomarkers of oxidative stress in young and elderly men. Free Radic Biol Med 34:1575–1588CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Seyama A (1993) The role of oxygen-derived free radicals and the effect of free radical scavengers on skeletal muscle ischemia/reperfusion injury. Surg Today 23:1060–1067PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Subudhi A (1999) Free radical production and antioxidant supplementation in elite alpine ski racing. Am Ski Coach 19:14–17Google Scholar
  28. Sumida S, Tanaka K, Kitao H, Nakadomo F (1989) Exercise-induced lipid peroxidation and leakage of enzymes before and after vitamin E supplementation. Int J Biochem 21:835–838CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Surmen-Gur E, Ozturk E, Gur H, Punduk Z, Tuncel P (1999) Effect of vitamin E supplementation on post exercise plasma lipid peroxidation and blood antioxidant status in smokers: with special reference to haemoconcentration effect. Eur J Appl Physiol 79:472–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Vitamin E Research and Information Service (VERIS) (2000) Vitamin E fact book. Available at: www.veris-online.orgGoogle Scholar
  31. Viitala P, Newhouse I, Gottardo C, Lavoie N (2003) Effects of antioxidant vitamin supplementation on resistance exercise induced lipid peroxidation in trained and untrained participants. Masters Thesis, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, OntarioGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of KinesiologyLakehead UniversityThunder BayCanada

Personalised recommendations