The utilization of antioxidants to improve overall health and well-being has been a hot topic in the medical community for quite some time.
As more research is released and scientists confirm the multitude of benefits of antioxidants, people are looking for ways to get more out of these super-nutrients in their diets.
In addition to the overall health benefits of antioxidants, many researchers have turned their attention toward using antioxidants to help athletes not only recover from injures, but to also help them avoid injuries in the first place.
These naturally occurring substances are showing great promise and doctors in the United States, India, England, and elsewhere around the world are currently conducting clinical trials to observe the efficacy of powerful antioxidants like astaxanthin to help athletes reduce their recovery time, decrease inflammation, and restore mobility after an injury.
Already studies—like one published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine—are finding that antioxidant deficiencies can lead to an increase in exercise-induced muscle damage, impairing muscle recovery and performance.1
Antioxidants also help countless athletes avoid injury, improve their healing between workouts, and in some cases even improve their performance.
Regardless of the type of injury you’ve suffered, whether it’s a strain, sprain, or even the normal muscle soreness associated with hard workouts, oxidative stress and free radical damage appear to play a major role in the process.
Antioxidant supplementation has shown a lot of promise in its ability to speed up the healing of these injuries especially when free radical damage plays a role.
For instance, one study done on muscle contusions in rats showed that 14 days after injury, the antioxidant group showed much better recovery and a significantly lower amount of inflammation when compared to a placebo group.2
In today’s competitive environment, it’s crucial to improve and shorten recovery time and keep injuries to a minimum.
Exercise and sports performance by their very nature have a tendency to increase the amount of free radicals present, in turn causing more oxidative damage.
The use of certain antioxidant supplements can enhance all aspects of injury recovery by blocking the expression of multiple inflammatory chemicals that are known to impede the recovery process.
Antioxidants come in many forms and are found in a variety of foods. Most fruits, vegetables, and herbs contain antioxidants like Vitamin C, betacarotene, flavonoids, and lycopene.
When measuring antioxidant levels, scientists use something called an ORAC Score. Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity is an indication of how powerful a source of antioxidants is at absorbing and eliminating free radicals.
When these measurements are taken they are based on 100 grams of a particular food or herb to evaluate its effectiveness.
For example, some of the top antioxidant fruits are certain types of berries (with goji berries topping the list), as well as prunes and pomegranates. Dark chocolate, pecans, and artichokes are also known for their high ORAC scores.
And while these foods have extremely high levels of antioxidants per serving, nothing comes close to the power of astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin is one of the many powerful carotenoids found naturally in orange and red fruits and vegetables and in dark leafy greens, wild salmon, trout, and shrimp.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory benefits, astaxanthin has also been shown in clinical studies to help with tendonitis, muscle weakness, as well as muscle injuries.
And while astaxanthin is a naturally-occurring substance, it has been shown to work much like many of the leading prescription medications commonly used for pain relief and joint inflammation, however absent of the same risks or side effects.
One benefit of astaxanthin, in particular, is its ability to block the COX2 enzyme responsible for much of the pain and inflammation associated with severe joint pain.3
In addition, Astaxanthin is:
– 6,000 times stronger than Vitamin C
– 3,000 times stronger than resveratrol and quercetin
– 550 times more effective than Vitamin E
– 75 times stronger than alpha lipoic acid
– 40 times stronger than beta-carotene
– a far more effective scavenger of free-radicals than CoQ10, beta-carotene, and green tea
Further, its unique chemical structure and physical size allows it to incorporate itself into cell membranes, where it is able to span the entire thickness of the membrane. This gives it the ability to protect the inner and outer cell membrane from oxidative damage while it stabilizes the cell membrane.
As with any nutrient with positive claims in the sports and performance world, scientific testing and clinical trials are necessary to prove or disprove substances’ benefits.
And in the world of athletics, the slightest advantage in recovery can help athletes push their limits, win competitions and set personal bests.
Here are some of the studies that have proven the benefits of astaxanthin:
It’s studies like these that have put antioxidants in the spotlight and there is no other antioxidant as powerful as astaxanthin, particularly for use by athletes for both injury prevention and healing.