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- Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP
Moderate exercise (run 20-30 km per wk) increases immune function, but intensive training can weaken immune function. (1) After 3 hrs of endurance training:
- Epinephrine and cortisol levels 59% above baseline (catabolism).
- This weakens immune system (high cortisone levels).
- 25-46% decline in natural killer cells (NKC) at1.5-6 hrs post ex.
- NKC responsible for 10-15% of all lymphocytes (1st line defense against viral infections).
- NKC also destroy cancer cells and mutated cells.
- Increased WBC count (leukocytosis) lasting for 21 hrs post ex, likely due to inflammation and elevated cortisol levels.
- Marathon runners show higher incidence of URT post-race than non competitors. Vitamin C at 600 mg per day shown to reduce URT in this group. (Also glutamine supplementation) (2- 11)
Study By Peters et al (1993 –Am J Clin Nutr):
14 days after a 90 km road race on foot, the vitamin C group (600 mg per day during training and after) showed 33% incidence of URT infections vs 68% in the placebo group, who’s symptoms were more severe and lasted longer.
A 21 km run produced a 20% decline in plasma Vitamin C, (on average) with increased Vitamin C excretion in urine and sweat.
Vitamin C used to quench oxygen free radicals generated during aerobic metabolism, hence its requirement increases (12-14).
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the Immune System
Dr. James Meschino,
DC, MS, ROHP
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3. Shephard RJ, Shek PN. Effects of exercise and training on natural killer cell counts and cytolytic activity: a meta-analysis. Sports Med 1999; 28(3): 177-95.
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7. Verde TJ, Thomas SG, Moore RW, Shek P, Shephard RJ. Immune responses and increasing training of the athlete. J Appl Physiol 1992; 73(4): 1494-1499.
8. Lotzerich H, Wilczkowiak I, Stein N. Influence of training and competition on the phagocyte activity of athletes. Int J Sports Med 1997; 18(suppl 1): S111 [abstract].
9. Mackinnon LT. Immunity in athletes. Int J Sports Med 1997; 18(suppl 1): S62-68.
10. Mackinnon LT. Exercise and Immunology. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics; 1992.
11. Mackinnon LT. Exercise and immunoglobulins. Exerc Immunol Rev 1996; 2: 1-34.
12. Peters-Futre EM. Vitamin C, neutrophil function and upper respiratory tract infection risk in distance runners: the missing link? Exerc Immunol Rev 1997; 3: 32-52.
13. Peters EM, Bateman ED. Ultramarathon running and upper respiratory tract infections: an epidemiological survey. S Afr Med J 1983; 64(15): 582-584.
14. Peters EM. Exercise, immunology and upper respiratory tract infections. Int J Sports Med 1997; 18(suppl 1): S69-77.
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