Vitamin and mineral supplementation may enhance recovery and subsequent performance in veteran cyclists

The Introduction

The purpose of the study was to examine the influence of vitamin and mineral complex supplementation on muscular strength and cycling efficiency in elderly endurance-trained master athletes during a heavy cycling time trial. The research suggested that the multivitamin-mineral supplement improved cycling efficiency during intensities commonly seen in bike races.

The Research

Sixteen male master athletes (runners and cyclists) aged 66.1±5.8 years were randomly assigned in a double-blind process to either a vitamin-mineral supplementation group (n = 8) or placebo group (n = 8) for 21 days of supplementing or taking the dummy placebo pills. After that time, each subject had to perform a 10-min session of cycling on a cycle ergometer at a heavy constant intensity that induced fatigue followed by an isometric quadriceps strength measure and a leg press strength test. Twenty-four to 48 h after this session, subjects performed the same tests again. Isometric maximal voluntary force (MVF) of knee extensors was assessed before and after fatigue. The researchers measured the two strength measures, the economy of their cycling (how much oxygen they used to hold the power output during the cycling test), and the electromyographic (EMG) activity of the quadriceps and hamstrings muscles during the cycling. The supplement (Isoxan Senior) was a vitamin-mineral supplement with emphases on vitamins C, E, B, zinc, iron, mangenese, copper and selenium.

The Results

The results of the study showed an overall positive effect of vitamin and mineral supplementation on cycling efficiency 24-48 hours after the initial fatiguing cycling test. The quadriceps strength after the cycling exercise was reduced in similar proportions for both groups and this strength loss was associated with a significant reduction in muscle electrical activity for both groups but a lower decrease for the supplement group. Crucially, cycling efficiency decreased significantly in the second test for both groups but these changes were significantly lower for the supplement group.

The So What?

These results strongly suggest that the vitamin-mineral supplement benefited muscle strength and cycling economy of masters athletes who train hard regularly. It appears the reason for the improved performance may be the supplement reducing the level of muscle fatigue. The lesson for me – keep taking those multi-vitamin-mineral supplements. Not only do they cover my back side in terms of what my healthy diet may not be providing, this research is suggesting it may help me train more effectively by reducing my fatigue after hard sessions.

 Louis, J., Hausswirth, C., Bieuzen, F. and Brisswalter, J. (2010). Vitamin and mineral supplementation effect on muscular activity and cycling efficiency in master athletes. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. 35(3): 251 – 260.