If you were to open most athletes’ kitchen cabinet, you’ll probably find a shelf of supplements: the typical sports nutrition cache of electrolyte drinks, bars, recovery drinks, and most often an array of vitamins/supplements purported to maximize workouts, speed recovery, and minimize downtime and the risk of injury. Most of us are aware that the FDA doesn’t tightly regulate supplements, and often the effects are over-exaggerated or lacking scientific merit. Recently the efficacy of vitamin supplementation has come under scientific scrutiny, in particular antioxidants.
The blurred line comes from the existing mentality “what is good in small doses must be great in large quantities”.
For example, there is strong epidemiological data to suggest that a diet rich in foods that are naturally high in antioxidants is associated with better health outcomes. But when using supplements, the data shifts- individuals supplementing with high dose antioxidants actually have worse health outcomes.
“But I’m an athlete and my body experiences a significantly greater exposure to oxidation because of my training. I need supplements! I can’t eat 10 pounds of kale a day….” you say. Hold on, let’s examine what oxidation in the body actually is…