Based on what I’ve read recently, some of which I have reported here, I’ve grown more and more wary of the wisdom of taking supplements. Few of the them seem to help.
And now comes a new study indicating that the two most common supplements can actually work against us. Those supplements are vitamins C and E.
It seems that we have a choice of exercising or taking large doses of those supplements. We know that exercise has lots of good effects like increasing our sensitivity to insulin, which is of great importance to all of us with diabetes.
We don’t really know whether taking antioxidants in pill form do much of anything for us. And now a small study that the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences just released online Monday before print seems to show that these fairly large doses of Vitamins C and E preclude the positive effects of exercise.
The doses weren’t all that big. The researchers divided 40 young men into a group that they gave 1000 mg of vitamin C and 400 mg of vitamin E each day and the other half as a control group that didn’t get the supplements. Half of each group had been exercising regularly and half hadn’t.
After the 4-week trial, the researchers found that the group taking the vitamins had no improvement in their insulin sensitivity and almost no activation of our natural defense mechanism against oxidative damage. Led by Dr. Michael Ristow, a nutritionist at Germany’s University of Jena, the researchers included Dr. C. Roland Kahn, president of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.
“If people are trying to exercise, this is blocking the effects of insulin on the metabolic response,” Dr. Kahn told The New York Times. The effect “is really quite significant.”
This is a study limited to taking vitamins C and E as supplements. “Fruits and vegetables may exert health-promoting effects despite their antioxidant content and possibly due to other bio-active compounds,” the report says.
And they didn’t study the effects of other antioxidants when we exercise. But I’ve been taking 150 mg daily of a powerful antioxidant, coenzyme Q10.
It seems that I may have a choice of getting the benefits of exercise or of that antioxidant. I’m choosing to continue exercising and to get more help from it in controlling my blood glucose. I’ve surrendered the possible benefits of the antioxidant.
HealthCentral published an earlier version of this article.