For some people, multivitamins are a waste of money. Since hard training athletes often need additional supplementation, it is better to stick to food-based multivitamins. You should also focus on consuming specific vitamins and minerals that athletes are notoriously deficient in such as zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, fish oil and curcumin, which are beneficial for performance and overall health.
The unstable atoms or molecules known as free radicals are produced by the body as a consequence of its normal metabolism, and as part of its natural defence against disease. Sometimes, however, the body over-produces free radicals which may cause serious damage to delicate cellular structures, resulting in inflammation and also the oxidation of blood cholesterol which is then deposited on arterial walls. This situation can be worsened by smoking, a high intake of pesticides, smog, over-exposure to ultraviolet light and even intensive exercise.
Free radicals contain at least one unpaired electron (or negative charge), making them highly reactive. As soon as they are produced, they search for molecules with which they can react, this reaction is called oxidation. Free radicals can oxidise, and so damage DNA and cell membranes, opening the way for cancers and diseases to develop. They are linked to the appearance of brown patches on the skin of elderly people. But although free radicals have been associated with aging, cancer, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and immune deficiency, their role in the development of these conditions is still being researched.
However, it is generally believed that if free radicals reach and attack the DNA in the nucleus of a cell, the cell mutation which can result may cause cancer. It has also been observed that when cholesterol is oxidised by free radicals it is more damaging to the artery that ‘native’ cholesterol, so implicating free radicals in the development of heart disease.
The body has defence mechanisms against free radicals, antioxidant enzymes and nutrients in it cells serve to ‘mop up’ free radicals and render them harmless. Protective nutrients include, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium (which help to make up protective antioxidant enzymes) as well as vitamin A, C and E. Other plant substances also provide protection against free radical damage; these include beta carotene and bioflavonoids.
Without antioxidants, many of us would be prey to numerous infections and possibly even cancer within a few months. Although our bodies produce their own antioxidants, we also need to boost our defences by eating foods that contain them. Just how important these dietary antioxidants are is a matter of great debate. All too often claims for dietary antioxidants, particularly for supplements, have been exaggerated, but recent research suggests that they may offer protection against certain cancers and heart disease, and may also help to prevent premature ageing.
Antioxidants protect against free radicals, chemicals which are formed in the body as part of its metabolism and defence against bacteria. Certain factors, such as excessive exposure to environmental pollution or ultraviolet light, illness and cigarette smoke, can cause the body to increase its production of free radicals. Left unchecked, these unstable and potentially harmful chemicals create conditions that may precipitate heart disease and cancer. To cope with these free radicals, the body needs more antioxidants than it can produce, particulary during times of illness or when exposed to pollutants. Fortunately, many foods provide antioxidants that help to protect the body against their threat.
Vitamins E and C and beta carotene, the plant form of vitamin A, help to neutralise free radicals, as do minerals such as selenium, (found in shellfish and avocados), copper (in nuts, seeds and shellfish) and zinc (in shellfish). Bioflavonoids, found in some fruit and vegetables, including citrus fruits, and grapes, also have antioxidant properties. Artificial antioxidants are added to margarine and oils to stop them becoming rancid, and to retain the natural colourings of processed foods.
More research is needed into the role of antioxidants in disease prevention. However, it is thought that free radicals may start the damage that causes fatty cholesterol deposits in the arteries, which can eventually lead to heart disease or stroke. High levels of antioxidant vitamins and minerals may help to prevent this harmful process, as well as damage to DNA that could lead to certain cancers.
Supplements of particular antioxidant vitamins or minerals need to be taken in the correct balance and, even then, too many can be harmful. To obtain an adequate intake of antioxidants, it is safer to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Citrus fruit provides vitamin C, and brightly coloured fruit and vegetables supply beta carotene. The vitamin E found in nuts, avocados and vegetable oils may also help to protect against disease.
The cultivation of beetroot can be traced back to somewhere around 4,000 years ago. The ancient Babylonians were the first to use it for various applications. Early Greeks and Romans used the root for its medicinal properties and the leaves as vegetables. Moving ahead with time beetroot held an important place in Renaissance (14th-16th century) medicine and was often used for treating various ailments. In medieval England, beetroot juice or broth was recommended as an early digested food for the aged, weak or infirm.
The juice of raw beetroot contains a multitude of benefits. Which will be explained further on.
So what are the nutritional ingredients in beetroot juice?
Beetroot juice contains magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium and calcium, as well as small amounts of copper, selenium, zinc, iron and manganese.
– Amino Acids
It contains trace amounts of amino acids (including D-amino acids [Alpha Amino Acids]) which help to build proteins to be used by the body.
Various antioxidants (including flavonoids and carotenoids) are found in the juice. They fight and destroy free radicals in the body and help to fight premature ageing and to maintain a healthy body and mind.
Beetroots are a good source of folic acid and vitamin C. It does also contain small amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene.
The deep red colour comes from betacyanin, which helps prevent colon cancer. A rich supply of silica is also present which helps to utilise the calcium in the body which is also required for healthy skin, hair, nails and bones.
Research has shown beetroot juice to improve the respiratory system which would benefit swimmers, singers and mountaineers. Beetroot is known to boost levels of nitric oxide in the body, causing muscles to work more effectively and demand less oxygen.
A study by 12 Swedish scientists in The Journal of Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology, was conducted on 12 healthy volunteers who were trained in breath-hold diving. In this test the 9 men and 3 women were either given a 70 millilitre shot of beetroot juice or an inactive placebo drink. They were then asked to hold their breath after having a clip placed on their nose. After drinking the beetroot, the participants were able to hold their breath for an average 4minutes and 38 seconds. After drinking the placebo they managed 4 minutes and 10 seconds. That is a difference of 11%.
Exeter University in the UK, carried out a study and concluded beetroot juice could improve your workouts. The study involved professional cyclists drinking a pint of store bought beetroot juice before riding in a simulated competition. They shaved vital seconds off their finishing times, which could be crucial in a sport where seconds often make a difference between winning and losing. This study can be found in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. An abstract of the study can be found here, http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2011/06000/Acute_Dietary_Nitrate_Supplementation_Improves.27.aspx
Another study also conducted by researchers in Exeter University, concluded that beetroot juice boosts stamina and an individual could exercise 16% longer. This is due to the nitrate the beetroot contains which reduces oxygen uptake, therefore making exercise less tiring. This study was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. An abstract of the study can be found here, http://jap.physiology.org/content/107/4/1144.abstract
A study published in the American Heart Association Journal, Hypertension, stated that individuals who drank a glass of beetroot juice a day were found to have significantly lower blood pressure just 24 hours later.
Beetroot juice has a very strong and over powering taste. Therefore, it should always be consumed in small quantities and usually mixed with other juices, such as apple, carrot, cucumber and celery, which altogether have nutritional benefits.