Vitamin E Supplementation and Endurance Exercise

Are There Benefits?


It has been widely noted that vitamin E shows numerous beneficial effects through and beyond its antioxidative properties; consequently, vitamin E is expected to prevent degenerative diseases. In the field of sports medicine, many studies dealing with vitamin E have been conducted originally from the point of view of its effects on physical performance. Although some earlier studies indicated that vitamin E supplementation could improve physical performance, defects in the study design or statistical analysis were pointed out at a later time. The majority of subsequent well controlled studies have reported no significant effect on physical performance from vitamin E supplementation. Recent studies suggest that endurance exercise may promote free radical generation in the body, and vitamin E may play an important role in preventing the free radical damage associated with endurance exercise. Although there is evidence of free radical involvement in exercise-induced muscle injury, vitamin E supplementation might not be expected to prevent muscle damage caused by exercise in humans without a vitamin E deficiency. Since it is still unclear whether exercise induces lipid peroxidation in the human body, the beneficial effect of vitamin E supplementation on exercise-induced lipid peroxidation has not yet been established. However, it is proposed that as a result of exercise vitamin E may be mobilised from store tissues and redistributed in the body to prevent oxidative damage. Therefore, we are convinced that vitamin E contributes to preventing exercise-induced lipid peroxidation. It has also been indicated that strenuous endurance exercise may enhance the production of oxidised low density lipoprotein (LDL), which plays a key role in the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. It is also suggested that this enhanced production of oxidised LDL could be reduced if a higher vitamin E status is maintained. Supplementation with 100 to 200mg of vitamin E daily can be recommended for all endurance athletes to prevent exercise-induced oxidative damage and to reap the full health benefits of exercise.

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The authors would like to express their sincere gratitude to the late Professor Hisao Iwane, formerly of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Tokyo Medical University, for his great contributions to this review. The authors would also like to extend their thanks to Patrick J. Dwyer for his assistance in the preparation of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Dr Yoshikazu Takanami.

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Takanami, Y., Iwane, H., Kawai, Y. et al. Vitamin E Supplementation and Endurance Exercise. Sports Med 29, 73–83 (2000).

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  • Endurance Exercise
  • Endurance Athlete
  • Exhaustive Exercise
  • Serum Creatine Kinase Activity
  • Serum TBARS