Objective: We investigated the effect of a moderate mutivitamin and mineral supplementation containing mainly vitamin C (150.0 mg.day−1), vitamin E (24.0 mg.day−1) and β-carotene (4.8 mg.day−1) prior to and during an extreme running competition -the Marathon des Sables (MDS)- that consisted of six long races in the desert. Methods: Seventeen athletes participated in our double blind, placebo-controlled study. Blood samples were collected prior to the supplementation i.e. three weeks before the competition (D-21), two days prior to the MDS (D-2), after the third race (D3) and at the end of the competition (D7). Erythrocyte antioxidant enzyme activity (glutathione peroxidase (GPx), superoxide dismutase (SOD)), erythrocyte glutathione level (GSH), plasma non-enzymatic antioxidant status (uric acid, vitamin C, α-tocopherol, retinol, β-carotene), markers of plasma lipid peroxidation (thiobarbituric reactive substances (TBARS)), reactive carbonyl derivatives (RCD) and membrane damage (creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase activities) were measured. Results: In both groups, GSH levels, uric acid levels and membrane damage significantly increased during the competition while SOD activity significantly decreased. In Supplemented group, plasma α-tocopherol, β-carotene and retinol levels significantly increased after three weeks of supplementing. In contrast to Placebo group, α-tocopherol, vitamin C and retinol levels were significantly affected by the competition in Supplemented group. Moreover, no increase in TBARS was observed in Supplemented group during the competition, whereas TBARS significantly increased at D3 in the placebo group. Conclusion: The moderate multivitamin-mineral supplementation prevented the transient increase in TBARS levels during this extreme competition.
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