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High Alt Med Biol. 2001 Spring;2(1):21-9.

Acute mountain sickness; prophylactic benefits of antioxidant vitamin supplementation at high altitude.

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Health and Exercise Sciences, Research Laboratory, School of Applied Sciences, University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, South Wales, UK.


Acute mountain sickness; prophylactic benefits of Free-radical-mediated damage to the blood-brain barrier may be implicated in the pathophysiology of acute mountain sickness (AMS). To indirectly examine this, we conducted a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial to assess the potentially prophylactic benefits of enteral antioxidant vitamin supplementation during ascent to high altitude. Eighteen subjects aged 35 +/- 10 years old were randomly assigned double-blind to either an antioxidant (n = 9) or placebo group (n = 9). The antioxidant group ingested 4 capsules/day(-1) (2 after breakfast/2 after evening meal) that each contained 250 mg of L-ascorbic acid, 100 IU of dl-a-tocopherol acetate and 150 mg of alpha-lipoic acid. The placebo group ingested 4 capsules of identical external appearance, taste, and smell. Supplementation was enforced for 3 weeks at sea level and during a 10-day ascent to Mt. Everest base camp (approximately 5,180 m). Antioxidant supplementation resulted in a comparatively lower Lake Louise AMS score at high altitude relative to the placebo group (2.8 +/- 0.8 points versus 4.0 +/- 0.4 points, P = 0.036), higher resting arterial oxygen saturation (89 +/- 5% versus 85 +/- 5%, P = 0.042), and total caloric intake (13.2 +/- 0.6 MJ/day(-1) versus 10.1 +/- 0.7 MJ/day(-1), P = 0.001); the latter is attributable to a lower satiety rating following a standardized meal. These findings indicate that the exogenous provision of water and lipid-soluble antioxidant vitamins at the prescribed doses is an apparently safe and potentially effective intervention that can attenuate AMS and improve the physiological profile of mountaineers at high altitude.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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