Supplement Savvy: More Questions, MOHR Answers - 8-16-04!

In this article I cover studies about the antioxidant effects of vitamin E and determine whether or not creatine blended with mg2+ is more effective than regular creatine.
Vitamin E is often promoted as an important component during the recovery process after running. Because training itself actually results in minor muscular injury, inflammation and increased cellular oxidation, vitamin E is often recommended because of its known antioxidant properties.

Let's take a look to see if this recommendation pans out in the scientific world.

Vitamin E And Immunity After The Kona Triathlon World Championship

The purpose of this particular study was to determine what effects vitamin E supplementation would have on 38 triathletes who competed in the Kona Triathlon World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. The athletes received either 800 iu's of vitamin E or placebo, in a randomized, double-blind fashion for 2 months before the race event.

Blood, urine and saliva samples were then collected (fun job, huh?) the day before the race, 5-10 minutes post race, and 1.5 hours post race. Not surprisingly, race times did not differ among the vitamin E or placebo athletes and plasma levels of alpha-tocopherol (a particular form of vitamin E) were significantly higher in those taking vitamin E.

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However, the surprising results were that markers of both inflammation and immunity were higher in those taking vitamin E versus those taking placebo! This was contrary even to the author's hypothesis.

They also found no significant increases in DNA oxidative stress after the extreme level of exercise.

Looks like vitamin E may not quite be the immunity booster, powerful antioxidant some claim; more research is clearly warranted.

Next on the "supplement cutting board" is creatine. Yup, we know it works. However, some of you may have noticed recent products on the market have began using what's called a Mg2+ chelate to facilitate the entry of creatine into cells. So let's take a look at the first study that compared a Mg2+ chelate to regular old creatine.

Mg2+-Creatine Chelate And A Low-dose Creatine Supplementation Regimen Improve Exercise Performance

Thirty-one weight-trained men were randomly assigned in a double-blind manner to a placebo group , creatine group (2.5 g of creatine/day) or a Mg2+-creatine chelate (2.5 g of creatine/day). Baseline data were collected for the bench press 1 repetition maximum (1 RM) and maximal work completed during a fatigue set of 70% of the 1 RM.

Results of this short, 10-day study showed that there were no significant differences between either the creatine or Mg2+ creatine chelate groups; both groups differed significantly from the placebo group.

These results suggest that there is no difference between the two forms of creatine.

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Moreover, the study also demonstrates that as little as 2.5 g of creatine may be effective at enhancing performance. This is one of a growing number of studies that show that this lower dose of creatine is effective; this may make the 5 grams/day recommended on most bottles obsolete.

Back to this study, however, it appears that the theory that binding creatine with a chelate works better on paper than it does physiologically.


From these two studies we have learned:

    Vitamin E may not be too effective in protecting one from the inflammation and other transient negative side of training and

    Mg creatine-chelate is no more effective than creatine alone.

We also are learning of the emerging evidence that when it comes to creatine, less is actually more and the 5 g/day once popular is unnecessary.