Vitamins C & E to the rescue

By Glen McGowean

In recent years, exercising out doors has become more of a hazard due to increasing pollution levels. There are a handful of pollutants that threaten densely populated areas. Some of the major pollutants are: carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone and sulpher dioxides.

Athletes are particularly susceptible to the damaging effects of pollutants due to:

  1. An increase in ventilation (breathing more frequently) results in an increase of inhaled pollutants.
  2. Mouth breathing bypasses nasal filtration mechanisms.
  3. The increase in breathing velocity carries the pollutants deeper into the respiratory tract.

Obviously, removing ourselves from this environment will help, but for those of us who live in heavily populated areas, it is unavoidable.

During prolonged intense physical activity our muscles consume oxygen at a rate that is ten times faster than at rest. This increases our exposure to air pollutants and internally increases our body’s production of damaging free radicals.
Vitamin E is a potent fat-soluble antioxidant that vigorously defends cell membranes against oxidative damage. Vitamin C, a water soluble antioxidant, helps regenerate vitamin E. Vitamin E seems to be the most important antioxidant related to physical activity.
Many athletes are taking antioxidant supplements, particularly vitamin E, in hopes of preventing oxidative damage to muscles. The results of some research lend support to this practice. Research suggests that supplementation either with Vitamins C and E together or with vitamin E alone, offers protection against exercise induced oxidative stress. Supplement doses in studies vary considerably, however, and no one yet knows the precise dose that will offer the greatest benefits with the least risk of toxicity.

The recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for Vitamin E is 10 mg for males and 8 mg for females. The RDA for vitamin C is 60 mg for both male and female.

A well balanced diet consuming a wide variety of foods will meet the RDA’s under most circumstances. If you would like to supplement your diet with more of these two vitamins, here are some good choices:

Vitamin E

Canola oil 1 Tb = 2.9 mg (15% DV)
Corn oil 1 Tb = 3 mg (15% DV)
Mayonnaise 1 Tb = 3 mg (15% DV)
Safflower oil 1 Tb = 6 mg (30% DV)
Wheat germ 1 oz = 6 mg (30% DV)
Sunflower seeds 2 Tb = 9.6 mg (48% DV)

Vitamin C

Strawberries ½ cup = 42 mg (70% DV)
Cooked brussel sprouts ½ cup = 42 mg (70% DV)
½ grapefruit ½ fruit = 43 mg (72% DV)
Cooked broccoli ½ cup = 48 mg (80% Daily Value)
Raw green Pepper ½ cup = 67 mg (112% DV)
Orange juice ¾ cup = 93 mg (155% DV)
Raw sweet red pepper ½ cup = 142 mg (237% DV)

Always try and get your vitamins and minerals from whole food sources and supplementing with pills and powders as a second choice.

Supplementation via pills and powders is only absorbed at about 40%-60%.

In summary, be sure to meet your needs in these two important vitamins (if you live in a densely populated area or not). Always ask your doctor before starting any new program or supplementation.

Eat well, train safe and have fun.