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Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
Date:5/11/2009

Vitamins C, E block creation of free radicals that promote insulin sensitivity, researchers say,,,,

MONDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Exercise helps increase insulin sensitivity and ward off diabetes, but taking supplemental antioxidants such as vitamins C and E actually blunts that benefit, researchers report.

Exercise helps increase the body's sensitivity to insulin by making reactive oxygen species, or "free radicals," which antioxidants work against. These free radicals are thought to damage cells and speed the aging process, but they are also used by the body to prevent cell damage after exercising, the researchers say.

"When you exercise you do improve your insulin sensitivity, and if you are at risk for diabetes improving insulin sensitivity is good," said researcher Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, the Mary K. Iacocca Professor at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School.

Part of the reason that exercise improves insulin sensitivity is that it causes oxidative stress on the muscles. The muscles respond to this stress by creating free radicals, Kahn said.

"If you take antioxidants like vitamins C and E, you block the oxidative stress response, but you also block the beneficial effects of exercise on insulin sensitivity," he said.

The report is published in this week's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For the study, Kahn's team looked at the benefit of exercise in increasing insulin resistance in 39 young men, roughly half of whom were taking supplemental vitamins C and E.

Kahn's group found that men taking vitamin supplements had no change in their insulin resistance, but men not taking vitamins had an increase in free radicals, which increases insulin resistance. A month after stopping the vitamin supplements insulin sensitivity was restored, the researchers noted.

"If you are exercising, in part, to reduce dia
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