Sports Medicine

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 311–318 | Cite as

Vitamin Supplementation Benefits in Master Athletes

  • Jeanick BrisswalterEmail author
  • Julien Louis
Leading Article


Master athletes are more than 35 years of age and continue to train as hard as their young counterparts despite the aging process. All life long, they are capable of accomplishing exceptional sporting performances. For these participants in endurance events, matching energy intake and expenditure is critical to maintain health and performance. The proportions of carbohydrate, fat, and protein must be optimized to provide enough calories to sustain the energy requirements of competition or training, and for recovery. In addition, endurance athletes must include adequate vitamins and minerals in their diets to maintain healthy immune function. Vitamins and minerals may be sufficient in the diets of endurance athletes, who have a high energy intake. This would make it unnecessary to use vitamin and mineral supplements. Furthermore, one major limitation for these athletes is the management of oxidative stress, which, when in excess, can be deleterious for the organism. For individuals exposed to oxidative stress, micronutritional supplementations rich in vitamins and minerals can be also an alternative strategy. Although these supplementations are increasingly used by master athletes, very few data are available on their effects on oxidative stress, muscle recovery, and physical performance. The potential benefits of supplement use in athletes are thus questionable. Some studies indicate no benefits, while others highlight potential negative side effects of vitamin supplementation. Additional studies are warranted in order to design adapted prescriptions in antioxidant vitamins and minerals.


Muscle Damage Eccentric Exercise Vitamin Supplementation Endurance Athlete Eccentric Contraction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors declare no conflicts of interest or funding that are directly relevant to the content of this review.


  1. 1.
    Trappe S. Marathon runners: how do they age? Sports Med. 2007;37(4–5):302–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bernard T, Sultana F, Lepers R, Hausswirth C, Brisswalter J. Age-related decline in Olympic triathlon performance: effect of locomotion mode. Exp Aging Res. 2010;36(1):64–78.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lepers R, Maffiuletti N. Age and gender interactions in ultra-endurance performance: insight from triathlon. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011;43:134–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Reaburn P, Dascombe B. Endurance performance in masters athletes. Eur Rev Aging Phys Act. 2008;5(1):31–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Tanaka H, Seals DR. Endurance exercise performance in masters athletes: age-associated changes and underlying physiological mechanisms. J Physiol. 2008;586(1):55–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Calder PC, Kew S. The immune system: a target for functional foods? Br J Nutr. 2002;88(Suppl 2):S165–77.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Burke LM, Read RS. Diet patterns of elite Australian male triathletes. Phys Sportsmed. 1987;5:140–55.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mastaloudis A, Traber MG, Carstensen K, Widrick JJ. Antioxidants did not prevent muscle damage in response to an ultramarathon run. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006;38(1):72–80.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    McGinley C, Shafat A, Donnelly AE. Does antioxidant vitamin supplementation protect against muscle damage? Sports Med. 2009;39(12):1011–32.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Peternelj TT, Coombes JS. Antioxidant supplementation during exercise training: beneficial or detrimental? Sports Med. 2011;41(12):1043–69.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Nieman DC, Henson DA, McAnulty SR, McAnulty LS, Morrow JD, Ahmed A, et al. Vitamin E and immunity after the Kona Triathlon World Championship. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004;36(8):1328–35.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Striegel H, Simon P, Wurster C, Niess AM, Ulrich R. The use of nutritional supplements among master athletes. Int J Sports Med. 2006;27(3):236–41.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Knez WL, Peake JM. The prevalence of vitamin supplementation in ultraendurance triathletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2010;20(6):507–14.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ji LL, Dillon D, Wu E. Alteration of antioxidant enzymes with aging in rat skeletal muscle and liver. Am J Physiol. 1990;258(4 Pt 2):R918–23.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Wei YH, Lu CY, Wei CY, Ma YS, Lee HC. Oxidative stress in human aging and mitochondrial disease—consequences of defective mitochondrial respiration and impaired antioxidant enzyme system. Chin J Physiol. 2001;44(1):1–11.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Pinzani P, Petruzzi E, Orlando C, Stefanescu A, Antonini MF, Serio M, et al. Reduced serum antioxidant capacity in healthy centenarians. Clin Chem. 1997;43(5):855–6.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Squier TC. Oxidative stress and protein aggregation during biological aging. Exp Gerontol. 2001;36(9):1539–50.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Packer L. Highlight: oxidative stress. Biol Chem. 2002;383(3–4):345.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Stadtman ER. Protein oxidation and aging. Science. 1992;257(5074):1220–4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Balaban RS, Nemoto S, Finkel T. Mitochondria, oxidants, and aging. Cell. 2005;120(4):483–95.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sohal RS, Mockett RJ, Orr WC. Mechanisms of aging: an appraisal of the oxidative stress hypothesis. Free Radic Biol Med. 2002;33(5):575–86.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kirkwood TB, Shanley DP. Food restriction, evolution and ageing. Mech Ageing Dev. 2005;126(9):1011–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Brooks SV, Faulkner JA. Skeletal muscle weakness in old age: underlying mechanisms. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1994;26(4):432–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Faulkner JA, Brooks SV. Muscle fatigue in old animals. Unique aspects of fatigue in elderly humans. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1995;384:471–80.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Krotkiewski M, Brzezinska Z. Lipid peroxides production after strenuous exercise and in relation to muscle morphology and capillarization. Muscle Nerve. 1996;19(12):1530–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Mastaloudis A, Morrow JD, Hopkins DW, Devaraj S, Traber MG. Antioxidant supplementation prevents exercise-induced lipid peroxidation, but not inflammation, in ultramarathon runners. Free Radic Biol Med. 2004;36(10):1329–41.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Ji LL. Exercise at old age: does it increase or alleviate oxidative stress? Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001;928:236–47.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Ji LL. Antioxidant signaling in skeletal muscle: a brief review. Exp Gerontol. 2007;42(7):582–93.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Harman D. Role of anti-oxidant nutrient in aging. Age. 1995;18:51–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Cruz JA, Moreiras-Varela O, van Staveren WA, Trichopoulou A, Roszkowski W. Intake of vitamins and minerals. Euronut SENECA investigators. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1991;45(Suppl 3):121–38.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Riboli E, Norat T. Epidemiologic evidence of the protective effect of fruit and vegetables on cancer risk. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(3 Suppl):559S–69S.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Hu P. Plant-based food and prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Am J Cln Nutr. 2003;78:544–52.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Pavia M, Pileggi C, Nobile CG, Angelillo IF. Association between fruit and vegetable consumption and oral cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(5):1126–34.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Lunet N, Lacerda-Vieira A, Barros H. Fruit and vegetables consumption and gastric cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Nutr Cancer. 2005;53(1):1–10.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Gandini S, Merzenich H, Robertson C, Boyle P. Meta-analysis of studies on breast cancer risk and diet: the role of fruit and vegetable consumption and the intake of associated micronutrients. Eur J Cancer. 2000;36(5):636–46.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Vincent-Baudry S, Defoort C, Gerber M, Bernard MC, Verger P, Helal O, et al. The Medi-RIVAGE study: reduction of cardiovascular disease risk factors after a 3-mo intervention with a Mediterranean-type diet or a low-fat diet. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;82(5):964–71.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Rissanen TH, Voutilainen S, Virtanen JK, Venho B, Vanharanta M, Mursu J, et al. Low intake of fruits, berries and vegetables is associated with excess mortality in men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) Study. J Nutr. 2003;133(1):199–204.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Beck MA. Selenium and host defence towards viruses. Proc Nutr Soc. 1999;58(3):707–11.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    James JS. Selenium: important new review of health findings. AIDS Treat News. 2000;347:3–4.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    McBride JM, Kraemer WJ, Triplett-McBride T, Sebastianelli W. Effect of resistance exercise on free radical production. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998;30(1):67–72.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Barnett A. Using recovery modalities between training sessions in elite athletes: does it help? Sports Med. 2006;36(9):781–96.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Nieman DC, Henson DA, Smith LL, Utter AC, Vinci DM, Davis JM, et al. Cytokine changes after a marathon race. J Appl Physiol. 2001;91(1):109–14.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Lepers R, Hausswirth C, Maffiuletti N, Brisswalter J, van Hoecke J. Evidence of neuromuscular fatigue after prolonged cycling exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000;32(11):1880–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Schaal K, Le Meur Y, Bieuzen F, Petit O, Hellard P, Toussaint JF, et al. Effect of recovery mode on postexercise vagal reactivation in elite synchronized swimmers. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2013;38(2):126–33.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Hausswirth C, Louis J, Bieuzen F, Pournot H, Fournier J, Filliard JR, et al. Effects of whole-body cryotherapy vs. far-infrared vs. passive modalities on recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage in highly-trained runners. PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e27749.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Vollaard NB, Shearman JP, Cooper CE. Exercise-induced oxidative stress: myths, realities and physiological relevance. Sports Med. 2005;35(12):1045–62.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Close GL, Ashton T, McArdle A, Maclaren DP. The emerging role of free radicals in delayed onset muscle soreness and contraction-induced muscle injury. Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2005;142(3):257–66.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Jackson MJ. Free radicals generated by contracting muscle: by-products of metabolism or key regulators of muscle function? Free Radic Biol Med. 2008;44(2):132–41.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Urso ML, Clarkson PM. Oxidative stress, exercise, and antioxidant supplementation. Toxicology. 2003;189(1–2):41–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Lee J, Goldfarb AH, Rescino MH, Hegde S, Patrick S, Apperson K. Eccentric exercise effect on blood oxidative-stress markers and delayed onset of muscle soreness. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002;34(3):443–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Sen CK. Oxidants and antioxidants in exercise. J Appl Physiol. 1995;79(3):675–86.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Davies KJ, Quintanilha AT, Brooks GA, Packer L. Free radicals and tissue damage produced by exercise. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1982;107(4):1198–205.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Davis JM, Alderson NL, Welsh RS. Serotonin and central nervous system fatigue: nutritional considerations. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;72(2 Suppl):573S–8S.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Nielsen P, Nachtigall D. Iron supplementation in athletes. Current recommendations. Sports Med. 1998;26(4):207–16.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Hausswirth C, Caillaud C, Lepers R, Brisswalter J. Influence of a vitamin supplementation of locomotion gross efficiency after an ultra-trail running race. Sci Sports. 2006;21(1):8–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Gauche E, Hausswirth C, Bieuzen F, Lepers R, Rabita G, Brisswalter J. Vitamin and mineral complex supplementation on maximal voluntary contraction decrease and biological markers following an eccentric exercise in elderly active people. Sci Sports. 2007;22:201–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Goldfarb AH, Bloomer RJ, McKenzie MJ. Combined antioxidant treatment effects on blood oxidative stress after eccentric exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005;37(2):234–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Gauche E, Lepers R, Rabita G, Leveque JM, Bishop D, Brisswalter J, et al. Vitamin and mineral supplementation and neuromuscular recovery after a running race. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006;38(12):2110–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Maxwell SR, Jakeman P, Thomason H, Leguen C, Thorpe GH. Changes in plasma antioxidant status during eccentric exercise and the effect of vitamin supplementation. Free Radic Res Commun. 1993;19(3):191–202.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Powers SK, Hamilton K. Antioxidants and exercise. Clin Sports Med. 1999;18(3):525–36.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Louis J, Hausswirth C, Bieuzen F, Brisswalter J. Vitamin and mineral supplementation effect on muscular activity and cycling efficiency in master athletes. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2010;35(3):251–60.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Louis J, Hausswirth C, Bieuzen F, Brisswalter J. Influence of a vitamin supplementation on maximal muscular performance during a strength-training program in master athletes. Sci Sports. 2010;25:253–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Thompson D, Williams C, Kingsley M, Nicholas CW, Lakomy HK, McArdle F, et al. Muscle soreness and damage parameters after prolonged intermittent shuttle-running following acute vitamin C supplementation. Int J Sports Med. 2001;22(1):68–75.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Thompson D, Williams C, Garcia-Roves P, McGregor SJ, McArdle F, Jackson MJ. Post-exercise vitamin C supplementation and recovery from demanding exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2003;89(3–4):393–400.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Beaton LJ, Allan DA, Tarnopolsky MA, Tiidus PM, Phillips SM. Contraction-induced muscle damage is unaffected by vitamin E supplementation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002;34(5):798–805.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Rokitzki L, Logemann E, Sagredos AN, Murphy M, Wetzel-Roth W, Keul J. Lipid peroxidation and antioxidative vitamins under extreme endurance stress. Acta Physiol Scand. 1994;151(2):149–58.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Kaikkonen J, Kosonen L, Nyyssonen K, Porkkala-Sarataho E, Salonen R, Korpela H, et al. Effect of combined coenzyme Q10 and d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate supplementation on exercise-induced lipid peroxidation and muscular damage: a placebo-controlled double-blind study in marathon runners. Free Radic Res. 1998;29(1):85–92.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Jakeman P, Maxwell S. Effect of antioxidant vitamin supplementation on muscle function after eccentric exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1993;67(5):426–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Kanter MM, Nolte LA, Holloszy JO. Effects of an antioxidant vitamin mixture on lipid peroxidation at rest and postexercise. J Appl Physiol. 1993;74(2):965–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Itoh H, Ohkuwa T, Yamazaki Y, Shimoda T, Wakayama A, Tamura S, et al. Vitamin E supplementation attenuates leakage of enzymes following 6 successive days of running training. Int J Sports Med. 2000;21(5):369–74.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 71.
    Tiidus PM, Houston ME. Vitamin E status and response to exercise training. Sports Med. 1995;20(1):12–23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. 72.
    Soni MG, Thurmond TS, Miller ER 3rd, Spriggs T, Bendich A, Omaye ST. Safety of vitamins and minerals: controversies and perspective. Toxicol Sci. 2010;118(2):348–55.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. 73.
    Barouki R. Ageing free radicals and cellular stress. Med Sci (Paris). 2006;22(3):266–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. 74.
    Gomez-Cabrera MC, Martinez A, Santangelo G, Pallardo FV, Sastre J, Vina J. Oxidative stress in marathon runners: interest of antioxidant supplementation. Br J Nutr. 2006;96(Suppl 1):S31–3.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. 75.
    Bailey DM, Williams C, Betts JA, Thompson D, Hurst TL. Oxidative stress, inflammation and recovery of muscle function after damaging exercise: effect of 6-week mixed antioxidant supplementation. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011;111(6):925–36.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. 76.
    Ji LL, Gomez-Cabrera MC, Vina J. Exercise and hormesis: activation of cellular antioxidant signaling pathway. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006;1067:425–35.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Laboratory of Human Motricity, Education Sport and HealthNice Cedex 03France
  2. 2.National Institute of Sport Expertise and Performance, Research DepartmentSport Expertise and Performance (SEP) LaboratoryParisFrance

Personalised recommendations