Why Vitamins May Be Bad for Your Workout

Many people take vitamins as part of their daily fitness regimens, having heard that antioxidants aid physical recovery and amplify the impact of workouts. But in another example of science undercutting deeply held assumptions, several new experiments find that antioxidant supplements may actually reduce the benefits of training.

Source: Why Vitamins May Be Bad for Your Workout

TLDR: avoid high dosages of antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E) while training.

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Scientists Discovered Why High Intensity Interval Training Can Match Endurance Training

Scientists have always struggled to understand exactly how short, few minutes, intense interval exercises can produce similar effects to much more time consuming endurance trainings.

High intensity interval training, also known by its acronym HIIT, has become very popular in recent years with beginners, professional athletes and patients with reduced muscle functions as it has clear health benefits. Now, researchers from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institutet discovered cellular mechanisms behind the positive benefits of HIIT and why endurance training is undermined by antioxidants.

Source: Scientists Discovered Why High Intensity Interval Training Can Match Endurance Training

Here’s what they’re doing 3 times a week:

  • You need a heart rate monitor (HRM) for…
  • 5-10 minute warm up
  • 4 minutes of exercise at a heart rate of suggested BPM (220-age)
  • 3 minutes of easy work, attempting to get the heart rate down to ~135 BPM
  • Repeat 3 times

Disclaimer: If you are at high risk for a cardiac event it might be best to see a physician before participating in vigorous exercise like HIIT. But for the majority, there should be no reason to avoid this type of exercise.  I’ve covered why raising your heart rate is good for you in the past.

The idea of max heart rate is debated (see this article), and can be very personal.  I’m told that if you can talk while maintaining a high heart rate, it’s OK for you.

Cancer Myths About Antioxidant Supplements Need to Die

The essence of a healthy diet is a bit of a mystery. Everyone knows that a diet full of plant foods—fruits, vegetables, and nuts—is good for you, as it can lower the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other ailments. But scientists, being scientists, want to know the exact reason, and they have long eyed antioxidants. These chemicals, found in high amounts in some plants, quench harmful molecules that can run amok in cells, fatally damaging DNA and the cellular machinery.

As the hypothesis that antioxidants offer health benefits took root in the minds of consumers, however, it shriveled in labs. Mounds of studies, conducted over decades, have found no conclusive link between antioxidants and lower disease risks. And, this month, two studies add to evidence that antioxidants may actually increase the spread and severity of some cancers.

Source: Cancer myths about antioxidant supplements need to die

What I’m missing in this story is whether free radicals can actually promote the growth of cancer cells as healthy cells are damaged. Yes, I get that the downside is that antioxidants can protect growing cancer cells, but what about before cancer cells develop? In other words, can the antioxidant protection against free radicals help prevent the formation of cancer cells in the first place? Or is there no link?

I’d like to point out another medical truism: if men were mice, we’d have cured cancer a long time ago.

Antioxidants May Lead to Cancer Spread, Study Says

Since the term “antioxidants” made the leap from the realm of biochemistry labs and into the public consciousness in the  1990s, Americans have come to believe that more is better when it comes to consuming the substance that comes in things like acai berries, green tea and leafy veggies.

A provocative new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature raises important questions about that assumption.

Source: The latest study about antioxidants is terrifying. Scientists think they may boost cancer cells to spread faster.

This article leaves off a couple of important points on the research

  1. Anti-oxidants increase the rate at which metastases form, and do not appreciably affect the growth of the primary tumor.
  2. The study focused on melanoma xenografts only, some of which are highly metastatic. This will probably apply to other kinds of cancer as well, but that needs to be more fully investigated.
  3. N-acetylcysteine isn’t just an antioxidant.

Here’s the journal article itself (behind a paywall).

Does a Diet of Chestnuts Really Flavor the Meat of a Pig?

Those of us watching Hannibal know that when Hannibal feeds someone chestnuts, it’s a warning sign. Supposedly a diet of chestnuts flavors meat. Let’s look at several studies on the subject (done with pigs, not humans) and try to determine if that’s true.

Source: Does a Diet of Chestnuts Really Flavor the Meat of a Pig?

What’s interesting is that some will warn about this for those with nut allergies.  I don’t know if it is actually a risk, but who wants to find out?

Switch to Coconut Oil for Its Fat-Burning Properties

What really takes the (coconut) cake is that [coconut oil is] super affordable—a 14-ounce jar can cost as little as $7, making it the most wallet-friendly all-in-one product yet. Seriously, it’s a beauty product, household cleaner, and more. Check out these 76 ways to use coconut oil in your day-to-day life.

Source: 76 Genius Coconut Oil Uses

I had to look – there is vitamin K in coconut oil, but very little:

  • 1 cup/218 grams of coconut oil contains 1.1 mcg of vitamin K, 1% of the Daily Value (DV)

Looking at the other nutritional “value” the article claims – 0.1 mcg of iron for 1 cup of coconut oil is 0% DV.  And 2% DV of vitamin E.  Coconut oil has a lot of calories, from fat.

Selenium, Vitamin E Supplements Increase Prostate Cancer Risk

When the SELECT trial started in 2001, there were high hopes it would prove that taking vitamin E or selenium could help prevent prostate cancer. The newest results from the trial show just the opposite—that taking selenium or vitamin E can actually increase the odds of developing prostate cancer.

Bottom line: men shouldn’t take selenium or vitamin E as a way to prevent prostate cancer, or anything else for that matter.

Although SELECT was supposed to last until 2011, it was stopped three years early because neither vitamin E nor selenium were showing any benefit—and there were hazy warning signs they might be doing some harm.

Source: Selenium, vitamin E supplements increase prostate cancer risk

There’s no mention of the quality of the supplements – some are just asparagus and lies, and/or could contain a ‘Amphetamine-like’ compound.  But the fact the study was stopped early is damning.

There’s nothing about if natural sources were better.

Inadequate Vitamin E Can Cause Brain Damage

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered how vitamin E deficiency may cause neurological damage by interrupting a supply line of specific nutrients and robbing the brain of the “building blocks” it needs to maintain neuronal health.

The findings — in work done with zebrafish — were just published in the Journal of Lipid Research. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The research showed that zebrafish fed a diet deficient in vitamin E throughout their life had about 30 percent lower levels of DHA-PC, which is a part of the cellular membrane in every brain cell, or neuron. Other recent studies have also concluded that low levels of DHA-PC in the blood plasma of humans is a biomarker than can predict a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: Inadequate vitamin E can cause brain damage

Curious about good sources for vitamin E?

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Spinach (not good for blood thinner)
  • Swiss Chard (also not good for blood thinner)
  • Bell peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Peanuts

Vitamin E is fat soluble – consuming fat soluble vitamins with fat increases their uptake.

How Hungry Humans Saved the Avocado

You may be able to convince the occasional seed to sprout (balanced on toothpicks, in a jar, on a sunny windowsill), but you’re not—believe me—going to get the wherewithal to make your own guacamole. Avocados know a waste of time when they see it. Besides, they’ve got enough trouble without taking on an uncongenial climate. Avocados have outpaced their evolutionary niche, which leaves them with a tough row to hoe.

Source: How Hungry Humans Saved the Avocado

One cup of avocado contains vitamin K – 35% of your Daily Value (DV) worth.  But the health profile of avocado is excellent, so it’s one of the few things I’d recommend eating and compensate with warfarin/coumadin medication.

What Vitamins to Take, What to Skip, and How to Know the Difference

Wandering into any conversation about vitamins and other health supplements is wandering into a thicket of hyperbole and half-truths. We’re here to cut through some of the bullshit in the $28 billion supplements industry.

The biggest fallacy we need to let go of is that all vitamins are good, and more vitamins is always better. Vitamins are potent chemicals packed in potent pills.

…It’s also worth noting, the quality of supplement products varies greatly from brand to brand. Not only can the amount of active ingredient differ from the label, but adulterants can also be sneaked in. If you’re wondering if your (expensive) brand is up to snuff, Consumer Labs regularly publishes tests comparing the quality of different brands. Pro tip: More expensive is not always better.

Source: What Vitamins to Take, What to Skip, and How to Know the Difference

The article doesn’t mention potassium or magnesium.  I prefer to source such things from plants/etc, rather than pills personally.