What are Antioxidants?
Before going into what antioxidants are, it is necessary to know what an oxidant is. Free radicals are unstable and very reactive molecules that steal electrons from other molecules (oxidation). This process results in the formation of more free radicals. Without an antioxidant to stop this chain reaction, it could continue to the point where all molecules would be oxidized. Oxidation can cause cell death, which can lead to many diseases as well as severe reductions in exercise performance. Antioxidants mitigate cell damage, and hence accelerate the recovery process and provide other beneficial effects for general health. There are many types of antioxidants, some of which are vitamins and vitamin-like substances (such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and coenzyme Q10), flavonoids, various enzymes within your body (catalase, superoxide dismutase, etc.), and other naturally occurring compounds.
Where do Antioxidants Come From?
Antioxidants come from a variety of diverse natural sources. Plants contain an abundant amount of antioxidants such as aronia berries (which have the highest amount of antioxidants measured in plants to date by USDA studies), black soybeans, dates, dark cherries, cranberries, broccoli’s, spirulina, persimmons, green tea, and beetroot, just to name a few.
Although there are many different forms of antioxidants, all of their variations generally impart the following benefits:
Antioxidant Benefits for Recovery
Free radicals are produced by the body just from day to day life. However, free radical production increases dramatically during exercise because of increased oxygen consumption. This can trigger an overload of free radicals that the body may not be able to handle, leading to oxidative stress (Urso & Clarkson, 2003) and cell damage. It is generally held that supplementing with antioxidants reduces the damage caused by exercise induced oxidative stress.
Specific antioxidants on their own and in combination with other antioxidants have been studied extensively by nutritionists and exercise scientists. The results of such studies are mixed and opinions vary, even among the experts. At the same time, however, there is considerable evidence to suggest that antioxidant supplements are beneficial for athletes and bodybuilders. In some studies, when provided a cocktail of antioxidants, it was found that subject experienced reduced amounts of inflammation and markers of oxidative stress compared to those receiving a placebo (Vassilakopoulos et al, 2003; Fischer et al, 2004). Results such as this lend evidence to suggest that recovery may be more rapid from reduced muscle damage due to antioxidant supplementation.
Antioxidant Benefits for Health
The effects of antioxidants have also been well studied in non-exercise related fields. One noteworthy study was conducted with over 13,000 French individuals over a period of 7.5 years. The results demonstrated that supplementation with low doses of antioxidants lowered incidences of cancer and general death in men (Hercberg et al, 2004)
Antioxidants for Sport Recovery & Bodybuilders
Bodybuilders Need Antioxidants
Bodybuilders have larger requirements for vitamins and minerals because of the increased energy expenditure and excess muscle damage that occurs during training. Many micro-nutrients are involved in antioxidant defense. During exercise, excess production of various reactive oxygen species and free radicals occurs. The body has multiple antioxidant defense systems to protect itself from these reactive molecules. Certain vitamins, minerals and supplements can provide protection against the detrimental effects of free radical damage (Jose Antonio et al, 2008). Without action, free radical damage can leave your body vulnerable to advanced ageing, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and degenerative diseases such as arthritis. Environmental factors such as cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, radiation, excessive sunlight, drugs, chemicals and additives in heavily processed foods such as protein powder, and stress can increase free radicals.
Despite its overall positive benefits, exercise is one of the leading contributors to free radical buildup. Fortunately, exercise also induces the production of some enzymes that fight free radicals and with the supplementation of foods, beverages, or supplements high in antioxidants bodybuilders can maintain low free radical levels even through vigorous workout routines.
Role of Antioxidants For Bodybuilders
Plants are a primary source of a group of robust antioxidants called phenolic phytochemicals. The 3 most important groups of dietary phenolics are flavonoids, phenolic acids, and polyphenols. Plants contain dark pigments such as aronia berries which are especially enriched with phenolic phytochemicals. Certain herbs also contain extremely high level of phenolic compounds such as cinnamon and turmeric.
- Beta-carotene, a natural form of Vitamin A reduces free radical production due to exercise and protects against exercise-induced tissue damage.
- Vitamin C maintains connective tissue, enhances iron absorption, and protects against free radical, and exercise related tissue damage.
- Vitamin E assists in the formation of red blood cells, scavenges free radicals and protects against exercise-related tissue damage.
- Selenium preserves elasticity of the skin and produces glutathione peroxidase, an important protective enzyme. An excellent natural source of selenium is sesame seeds and certain nuts.
- Copper assists in formation of red blood cells through aiding iron absorption, is required for energy metabolism and is integral to the production of superoxide dismutase, a protective antioxidant enzyme.
- Zinc is involved in energy metabolism and immunity.
- Manganese is involved in the metabolism and the production of superoxide dismutase a protective antioxidant enzyme.
How Antioxidants Help Body Recovery
Given the stresses of modern day living and amplified by high intensity training, excessive free radical damage is inevitable for bodybuilders. Minimizing this damage is a crucial part of achieving bodybuilding success. By consuming natural food enriched with natural antioxidants, free radical damage can be considerably mitigated.
Antioxidant Negatives and Side Effects
The flip side of the antioxidant debate for exercise is that using antioxidant supplements reduces the body’s ability to naturally build up a tolerance to oxidative damage (Ristow et al, 2009). Consequently, it has been said that the effects of antioxidants work best for non-trained individuals (Bloomer 2007) referring to those that have not yet naturally developed their own internal antioxidant defense system.
Because antioxidants cannot be classified within the confines of a single compound type, safety and side effects cannot be universally applied across every antioxidant type. However, these compounds are generally considered to be safe if consumed in sensible doses.
Antioxidants can be stacked with pretty much anything. Antioxidants can even be stacked with other antioxidants. In fact, this may be the most effective way to benefit from antioxidants (Peake et al, 2006).
Karuan Drinks: Your Natural Source of Antioxidants, Prebiotic Fibers & Protein
At Karuna, we treat food and drinks seriously: our products are backed by science and research. We work to bring you delicious drinks with powerful and readily observable health benefits. So, if you’re looking to capitalize on the natural restorative properties of antioxidants, look no further than Karuna. Here are a few highlight examples:
- Our Karuna Detox Bean Sprout & Aronia Berry juice provides antioxidants equal to over 3 cups of blueberries, fully complete with essential vitamins and minerals.
- The Karuna Empower Whole Plant Prebiotic & Protein Smoothie provides high quality natural, unprocessed proteins with complete amino acids and the added benefits of prebiotic fibers and antioxidants from black soybeans, cinnamon and quinoa.
- The Karuna Focus Turmeric Coffee provides a therapeutic dose of turmeric combined with a low dose of caffeine to boost energy naturally.
- The Karuna Boost Black Sesame Seed Coffee contains high levels of natural copper and vitamin Bs.
Enjoy any of these great flavors and let Karuna replenish and reactivate your vitality!