Free radicals have been implicated in the development of diverse diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cataracts, and recent epidemic-logical data suggest an inverse relationship between antioxidant intake and cardiovascular disease risk. Data also suggest that antioxidants may delay aging, Research has indicated that free radical production and subsequent lipid peroxidation are normal sequelae to the rise in oxygen consumption with exercise. Consequently, antioxidant supplementation may detoxify the peroxides produced during exercise and diminish muscle damage and soreness. Vitamin E, beta carotene, and vitamin C have shown promise as protective antioxidants. Other ingestible products with antioxidant properties include selenium and coenzyme . The role (if any) that free radicals play in the development of exercise-induced tissue damage, or the protective role that antioxidants may play, remains to be elucidated. Current methods used to assess exercise-induced lipid peroxidation are not extremely specific or sensitive; research that utilizes more sophisticated methodologies should help to answer many questions regarding dietary antioxidants.
M.M. Kanter is with Gatorade Sport Science Institute, The Quaker Oats Company, 617 W. Main St.. Barrington, IL 60010.