Nutrients That Can Help

S0ren Mavrogenis, a physiotherapist in Copenhagen and the physical therapist for the Danish Olympic team, uses a combination of fatty acids and antioxidants to treat injuries among Olympians and other elite athletes. The fatty acids include omega-3 fish oils (706 mg daily), gamma-linolenic acid (670 mg daily), and modest amounts of antioxidant vitamins and minerals.

In one of several controlled studies, S0ren and Norwegian physicians treated forty recreational athletes, men and women eighteen to sixty years old, with the fatty acid/antioxidant supplement or placebos for one month. All of the subjects had suffered overuse injuries in sports activities, experiencing chronic inflammation for at least three months before entering the study. In addition to the supplements and placebos, the subjects also received physical therapy. Nearly all of the participants had significant reductions in their inflammation and pain.

Exercise is well documented for increasing levels of free radicals, which can damage DNA. This DNA damage may account for the weathered looks of many serious athletes. Clinical trials have found that vitamin E supplements can reduce or prevent such DNA damage. Vitamin C quenches free radicals as well, and also is crucial for forming new collagen and cartilage during the healing process.

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