A Study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism has indicated that regular ingestion of an antioxidant supplement alongside quercetin may improve performance for cyclists.

The evidence

The authors of this study investigated liquid antioxidant supplementation over a 6 week period using eleven elite male cyclists. Antioxidant supplements were ingested twice per day with one group adding quercetin to their daily intake.

Each liquid supplement contained green tea (300mg), vitamin C (150mg), vitamin E (50mg), caffeine (45mg), niacin (25mg), taurine (9mg), vitamin B6 (2.5mg) vitamin B2 (2.1mg), vitamin B1 (1.9mg), and vitamin B12 (0.008mg). In addition, one of the treatments contained 300mg of the flavanoid quercetin per serving. Analysis showed that 30km time trial time was improved by 3.1% in the group taking the combined supplement with quercetin with a 2% improvement in time over the last 5km.

Heart rates were not different between the two groups but the group taking the combined supplement showed a higher peak power and higher average power output.

Layman lowdown

Antioxidants are of particular interest to scientists looking at the area of sports and performance as strenuous exercise markedly increases free radical production which can lead to reductions in muscular performance, and hence have a negative impact on performance.

Antioxidants have been used to combat this stress, potentially improving endurance performance, minimising damage to muscle & reducing inflammation. There are studies showing varying results when antioxidants are put to the test, but researchers have argued that this is due to a limited number of antioxidants in a formula. The combinations of antioxidants used in this study were selected according to the daily recommended intake set by the Institute of Medicine.

Quercetin was added as the ?test? ingredient as this flavanoid is believed to be stronger than vitamin C. Quercetin can be found in onions, apples, kale, french beans, brocolli and apricots and is believed to reduce muscular fatigue and inflammation, making it great for your performance and your health. The product formula used was obtained from ?New Sun Nutrition? in Canada and is particularly exciting as performance improvements were shown in high-end athletes, where even small gains are much more difficult to achieve.

Getting it into perspective

If you?re currently training hard and looking for an improvement in race times it could be worth including quercetin rich foods in your diet, or even using the tested supplement from FRS.

FRS products, as used by Lance Armstrong, are available at www.frs.com. Don?t neglect your basic diet as these formulas are not ?magic pills? but are a great addition to a balanced diet when you?re in hard training.