Most people believe free radicals are
generated primarily by excessive exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays,
radiation, air pollution, cigarette smoke and various chemicals. While
these factors add to your oxidative stress, most free radicals are
formed right inside your body.
depend on oxygen to stay alive. Oxygen helps our cells produce ATP, the
chemical form of energy that powers our bodies. This ATP is needed in
extra quantities when we exercise. The longer and more intensive the
exercise, the more oxygen is consumed. While oxygen is absolutely vital
for energy production, it is also a potent free radical producer.
Furthermore, exercisers often "stoke
up" on carbohydrates - called carbohydrate loading - before intensive
exercise. Doing so adds fuel to the body's biochemical furnace, but it
also generates additional free radicals.
Another major source of free radicals
are infection and inflammation - problems which are amplified in people
who exercise vigorously, particularly when they exercise outdoors.
Exertion in extremely hot and cold weather and at high altitudes, where
many professional athletes train, also increases free radical
Free radical production during exercise
can overwhelm the body's antioxidant defense systems. Unless
neutralized, these free radicals multiply in a chemical chain reaction
with effects reaching throughout the body.
Free radicals may be a natural part of
life, but their excessive production accelerates the aging process and
the development of disease. If you exercise, which you should, it makes
sense to take extra antioxidant nutrients to neutralize these unwanted
free radicals. A number of studies have shown that antioxidant nutrients
reduce muscle soreness after physical exertion and speed up recovery
from hard workouts.
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