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A–Z of nutritional supplements: dietary supplements, sports nutrition foods and ergogenic aids for health and performance: part 39
  1. D S Senchina1,
  2. L M Burke2,
  3. S J Stear3,
  4. L M Castell4
  1. 1Biology Department, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, USA
  2. 2Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia
  3. 3Performance Influencers Limited, London, UK
  4. 4Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to L M Castell, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6HG, UK; lindy.castell{at}

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Introductory remarks

Micronutrients, including vitamin supplements, are widely used in the general population and by athletes. A variety of claims or areas of interest have promoted the use of vitamin supplements, with antioxidant claims becoming a popular interest over the past two decades. While the antioxidant issue has typically targeted the prevention of ageing or various diseases associated with oxidative damage, it has also been recognised that exercise is a stimulator of the generation of oxygen radical species. Hence, there has been interest in whether athletes might have additional needs for antioxidant vitamins to counteract such damage. Because of the considerable and long-term interest in this topic, we have devoted an entire part of this series on supplements to the antioxidant vitamins, A, C and E.

Vitamins A, C and E

D S Senchina

Vitamins A, C and E are being discussed together in this series because all three have antioxidant properties, though they differ in many other respects (see table 1). Recent research has focused on these vitamins’ antioxidant prospects because exercise induces free radical (ROS, reactive oxygen species) release which leads to cellular damage, fatigue and overtraining. Literally hundreds of studies on antioxidant vitamin supplementation (AVS) and exercise have been published. In the representative sample reviewed here, vitamin A (V-A) was given as β-carotene, vitamin C (V-C) as ascorbic acid and vitamin E (V-E) as α-tocopherol.

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Table 1

Properties of vitamins A, C and E.

Systematic training causes the body to develop adaptations naturally to the increase in …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.