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L-arginine, omega-3s, vitamin D and more boost performance

L-arginine and spirulina increased aerobic capacity, omega-3s improved professional football players’ blood-fat profiles, and the Chicago Blackhawks take vitamin D, new research reveals.

Doctors in a fitness study said the capacity to exercise declines with age and that L-arginine helps blood vessels dilate to carry more blood. Sixteen avid male cyclists, aged 50 to 73, took 5.2g of L-arginine per day or a placebo. After three weeks, while there was no change for the placebo group, the L-arginine group had increased aerobic capacity by 17 percent.

In a spirulina study, nine moderately trained male runners took 6g of antioxidant-rich spirulina per day or a placebo. After four weeks, subjects ran on a treadmill for two hours at 70-75 percent of aerobic capacity, then at 95 percent until exhausted. Compared to placebo, the spirulina group ran 32 percent longer during the exhaustion phase and had far less of the oxidative stress that contributes to fatigue.

Researchers in an omega-3 study said recent research showed 82 percent of 233 retired National Football League players under age 50 had abnormal narrowing and blockages in arteries compared to the general population of the same age. In this study, 36 active NFL players took 2,200 mg of docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) acids plus 360 mg of other omega-3s per day, or a placebo. After two months, the omega-3 group had 26 percent more HDL, the good cholesterol, compared to 14 percent more for placebo, and total blood fats had decreased 8 percent compared to increasing 44 percent for placebo.

Dr. John J. Cannell, executive director of the Vitamin D Council, reports that since the fall of 2008, when some of the Chicago Blackhawks began taking 5,000 IU of vitamin D per day to treat deficiency, players have suffered fewer and less severe colds, flu, and repetitive-use injuries. In 2010, the team won the Stanley Cup championship. 

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