Our aim was to determine whether the consumption of a functional drink enriched with vitamin C and vitamin E could alleviate exercise-induced oxidative damage in lymphocytes.
Fourteen male amateur trained runners (32-36 years old) were randomized to receive antioxidant supplementation (152 mg vitamin C/day and 50 mg vitamin E/day) or placebo for 1 month in a double-blind study, and participated in a half-marathon race. The volunteers did not take any other antioxidant supplements. Blood samples were taken before and after the half-marathon and after 3 h recovery.
Exercise increased lymphocyte malondialdehyde levels only in the placebo group (p < 0.001). Lymphocytes from the supplemented group accumulated more vitamin C and vitamin E than placebo after exercise and recovery (p < 0.05). Catalase and glutathione peroxidase activities increased only in the supplemented group after exercise, whereas superoxide dismutase activity increased in both groups (p < 0.05). Heme oxygenase-1 expression was enhanced during the recovery period only in the placebo group (p < 0.01). Bcl-2 expression decreased after exercise only in the placebo group and remained low during the recovery (p < 0.001).
Intense exercise increases lipid peroxidation, decreases Bcl-2 expression and induces an antioxidant response in lymphocytes. Supplementation with moderate levels of antioxidant vitamins reduces exercise-induced oxidative damage, but without blocking the cellular adaptation to exercise.