For bodybuilders, hormone levels are a critical part of the equation for an award-winning physique. Dedicated professionals are rigorous in their supplementation, dieting, sleep and workout—and they’re always monitoring hormone levels to ensure their efforts manifest in results. Unfortunately, excessive free radicals could be working against them, making it more and more difficult for the body to produce muscle-building hormones.
Here's a look at how Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) disrupt hormone production, the effect it has on bodybuilders and how to fight back against free radicals.
Free radicals impede hormone production
Free radicals are an ever-present source of chaos in our bodies—namely, ROS such as Hydroxyl Radicals (OH*) and Singlet Oxygen (1O2). They’re produced when the body undergoes stress, such as during strenuous workouts. In other words, while you’re in the gym pumping iron and building muscle, you’re stressing your body to the point of excess free radical production.
Once present in the body, ROS will seek to stabilize by pairing with other atomic particles. In doing so, they destabilize them, leading to cell disruption and often, cell death. They also trigger the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines that affect the pituitary gland, which is responsible for production of essential hormones. As a result, the body struggles to produce appropriate levels of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF-1).
HGH and IGF-1 are essential for bodybuilders
Of the many hormones bodybuilders need to achieve their exceptional physique, HGH and IGF-1 are the most important.
- HGH is the primary hormone for building and repairing collagen and muscle tissue. It’s essential during the bulk and tone phases of a bodybuilder’s journey—without it, you’d have trouble maintaining significant muscle mass.
- IGF-1 has anabolic effects on the body and is a primary driver of hypertrophy: dense muscle building. It’s also responsible for strengthening supporting bone and tissue, giving bodybuilders a complete physique.
In short: HGH and IGF-1 are the key drivers behind getting bigger, stronger and more defined. If they’re impeded by ROS and oxidative stress to the pituitary gland, bodybuilders wills struggle to bulk up and define their mass.
Steroids aren’t the answer
Hormone inhibition due to free radicals is a common concern among bodybuilders—and one of the reasons many turn to anabolic steroids to pump up their physique. Steroids supplement the hormones that aren’t being produced by the body naturally. Unfortunately, ramping up steroid use comes with a host of health issues and is, ultimately, an unsustainable practice. Cycling also needs to be extremely precise or bodybuilders risk jeopardizing their long-term health and wellness.
Exploring the benefits of Vitamin E
Anabolic steroids are a quick fix to a symptom, not a problem. To get to the root of healthy hormone production, bodybuilders need to fight back against the free radical ROS that are taking a toll on their body. To do that requires a much simpler approach: antioxidant supplementation.
In particular, Vitamin E supplements have proven highly effective in controlling free radical levels in the body—even in excess, as is the case for bodybuilders exerting continuous physical stress on themselves. Vitamin E has the potential to reduce the prevalent of free radicals and, by contrast, alleviate their attack on the pituitary gland, so it can return to producing much-needed hormones for muscle growth.
As a lipid-soluble vitamin, bodybuilders don’t need to worry about passing Vitamin E through urine or sweat. Instead, it’s stored in fat until needed. Even bodybuilders—who typically sustain single-digit body fat percentages—benefit from Vitamin E reserves when supplementing regularly.
Vitamin E—specifically the natural d-alpha tocopherol compound within the Vitamin E family—is a highly effective antioxidant. When interacting with free radicals, it donates an excess electron to stabilize ROS, nullifying their effect on healthy cells.
Supplementing with muscle growth in mind
Every bodybuilder is familiar with supplementation. It’s vital to incorporate Vitamin E into a bodybuilding stack, as a means of protecting against elevated levels of ROS that are the result of frequent, strenuous workouts. Not just any Vitamin E supplement, either: a naturally derived one.
Natural Vitamin E—d-alpha tocopherol as opposed to dl-alpha tocopherol—is more bioavailable and more effective for bodybuilders seeking to aid their bodies in the fight against free radicals and oxidative stress.
It’s every bodybuilder’s mission to get bigger, grow stronger and become the best physical specimen they can be. To accomplish this takes more than hard work at the gym—it takes Vitamin E supplementation to fight against ROS and its hormone-inhibiting effects. Without HGH and IGF-1 to promote sustainable hypertrophy, all that work in the gym could leave you lagging behind the competition. Make Vitamin E part of your bodybuilding stack and don’t look back as you bulk up and get bigger.