Fortified to Thrive


Jul 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

THE CLAIM: The stress of exercise unleashes armies of free radicals into your bloodstream that damage your cells, break down your immune system, and contribute to that weak, sore feeling after an intense workout. Antioxidative vitamins are the antidote. Vitamin C boosts your immune system; vitamin E neutralizes the free radicals that cause muscle soreness; and vitamin A helps fight the oxidants that lead to cancer and heart disease. Speed-climbing legend Mark Twight claims that antioxidants have even aided him during his longer outings. "Somewhere after 12 hours, they really become a factor," says Twight. "I used to cramp up a lot when I was eating just honey without any antioxidants."
THE TRUTH: The consensus among exercise physiologists and nutritionists is that a minimum daily intake of five to nine servings of fruits, vegetables, and nuts should provide all the antioxidants you need. But of these three vitamins—C, E, and A—the one you may want to seek out in a drink, bar, or gel is E. Prolonged exercise, and even altitude, flood the body with free radicals, so you'll need even more vitamin E—300 percent of the RDA—to feel its positive effects.

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