Several studies show vitamins C and E protect athletes from muscle damage and phosphatidylserine reduces cortisol.
Sixteen untrained men volunteered to exercise for 30 minutes at 75 percent of their aerobic capacity in this vitamin C study. The men took 1,000 mg of vitamin C or a placebo two hours before exercise. Researchers measured blood levels of vitamin C, signs of oxidative stress, markers of inflammation and the stress hormone cortisol, before taking vitamin C, just before exercise and two and 24 hours after exercise. After exercise, those in the placebo group had oxidized fats and muscle damage while the vitamin C group did not. In the vitamin C group, cortisol—the “fight or flight” hormone that can damage muscle—declined significantly both before exercise and two and 24 hours after.
In a vitamin C and E study, 14 amateur-trained male runners, aged 32 to 36, drank a beverage containing 152 mg of vitamin C and 50 mg of vitamin E per day or a placebo. After one month, researchers took blood samples just before and after participants ran a half-marathon and again three hours later, and found that signs of oxidative stress increased in the placebo group only, and that vitamin C and E accumulated more in the white blood cells in the supplement group compared to placebo. The vitamin C and E group also had higher levels of protective enzymes and antioxidants than the placebo group. Investigators concluded that moderate levels of antioxidant
vitamins reduced oxidative damage from exercise while allowing the body to build muscle.
In a phosphatidylserine (PS) study, 10 healthy men took 600 mg of PS per day, or a placebo, alternately for 10 days at a time. During the 20-day period, the men exercised on a stationary cycle for 15 minutes at a time, while researchers drew blood before, immediately after and about an hour after each exercise interval. On average, peak cortisol levels were 39 percent lower after PS compared to placebo and the ratio of free (healthy) testosterone to cortisol was 184 percent higher after PS than placebo. Study authors concluded that a short-term, moderate dose of PS prevented the physical damage that occurs with too much exercise.
Reference: Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness; 2008, Vol. 48, No. 2, 217-24.