Research has shown that nutraceuticals may improve physical performance and speed the recovery of injuries, according to presenters at Session 075 Measuring the Effects of Nutraceuticals on Physiological and Cognitive Performance on Sunday afternoon.
Speaker Edward Zambraski, Ph.D., U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, discussed Assessing the Efficacy of a Nutraceutical to Improve Soldier Performance. A major problem facing the army is the fitness of the incoming recruits, said Zambraski. Many cannot run the required 2 miles. In addition, many are injured (acute and chronic muscular and skeletal injuries) during basic training and are then designated as Medically Not Ready, which amounts to tens of thousands of troops that cannot be deployed in the field. Thus, the army is most interested in nutracueticals as a means to alleviate medical issues or speed the recovery of injuries versus improving the physical performance of combat soldiers, noted Zambraski. A study of more than 5,000 female Navy recruits showed that supplementation with calcium and vitamin D reduced stress fractures by about 20%.
Kevin O’Fallon, Univ. of Mass., discussed Understanding the Effects of Nutraceuticals on Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage and Recovery in Humans: What Works and What Doesn’t. He presented research on the effects of nutraceuticals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties on exercise-induced muscle damage. In one study, quercetin—a single flavonoid—was incorporated into energy bars. The other study involved two botanical blends with > 1,000 mixed bioactives in supplement form. Quercetin showed no improvement in muscle strength or recovery versus the control, while the botanical blends significantly improved muscle recovery. More research is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of nutraceuticals to improve physical performance, concluded O’Fallon.
Mark Davis, Ph.D., Univ. of S. Carolina, discussed Novel Mind-Body Nutrition for Enhanced Mental and Physical Performance. In a study involving older adults (age 60–89), the group receiving quercetin increased its physical activity (i.e., number of steps counted by an accelerometer) 16.8% compared to the control group. Studies with mice have also shown that quercetin increases voluntary physical activity (i.e., running on a mouse wheel). Davis noted that individual studies on the effects of quercetin on physical performance were mixed. However, a recent meta-data analysis of quercetin showed a 3% improvement in physical performance.