The aim of this work was to check the effects of antioxidant supplementation (vitamins E and C, and β-carotene) on the basal iron status of athletes prior to and following their training and competition season (3 months).
Eighteen amateur trained male athletes were randomly distributed in 2 groups: placebo (lactose) and antioxidant supplemented (vitamin E, 500 mg/d; vitamin C, 1 g/d; and β-carotene, 30 mg/d). The study was double blind. Hematological parameters, dietary intake, physical activity intensity, antioxidant status (GSH/GSSG ratio), and basal iron status (serum iron, transferrin, ferritin, and iron saturation index) were determined before and after the intervention trials.
Exercise decreased antioxidant defenses in the placebo group but not in the antioxidant-supplemented group. No changes were found in the number of erythrocytes, hematocrit, or hemoglobin concentration, or in values of serum iron parameters, after taking the antioxidant cocktail for 3 months, in spite of the exercise completed. The placebo group showed a high oxidative stress index, and decreases in serum iron (24%) and iron saturation index (28%), which can neither be attributed to aspects of the athletes’ usual diet, nor to hemoconcentration.
Antioxidant supplementation prevents the decrease of serum iron and the iron saturation index, and a link between iron metabolism and oxidative stress may also be suggested.