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Antioxidant Side Effects

Antioxidants are constantly receiving praise for their ability to fight off disease and to aid in slowing down the aging process. However, a recent study at Kansas State University found that antioxidants might have a harmful side too.

Researchers at Kansas State’s Cardiorespiratory Exercise Lab have been studying how to use antioxidants to improve oxygen delivery to skeletal muscle during physical activity. Their findings show that antioxidants can sometimes impair muscle function.

“Antioxidant is one of those buzz words right now,” said Steven Copp, a doctoral student in anatomy and physiology from Manhattan and a researcher in the lab. “Walking around grocery stores you see things advertised that are loaded with antioxidants. I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that the antioxidant and pro-oxidant balance is really delicate. One of the things we’ve seen in our research is that you can’t just give a larger dose of antioxidants and presume that there will be some sort of beneficial effect. In fact, you can actually make a problem worse.”

Another researcher, David C. Poole who is a professor from both the departments of kinesiology and anatomy and physiology says, “it’s really a cautionary note that before we start recommending people get more antioxidants, we need to understand more about how they function in physiological systems and circumstances like exercise.”

The researchers have published their findings in several journals, including the Journal of Applied Physiology, Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology, Microvascular Research, the American Journal of Physiology and Experimental Physiology.

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