Antioxidants before scuba diving?
Should divers load up on antioxidants before scuba diving? Do they help minimize the effects of scuba diving on cardiovascular function? These are two questions posed by an interesting article out of Germany that’s quotes a study from The Journal of Physiology. According to the study, pre-dive ingestion of vitamins C and E can reduce vascular constriction. The findings are interesting, but they do not specify if the vitamins can be ingested simply by eating a pre-dive meal, or if supplements must be taken.
A single scuba air dive induced mild changes in cardiac function and a significant decrease in endothelial function. The authors thought that these changes could be influenced by oral ingestion of antioxidant vitamins C and E prior to diving, and that endothelial function, in particular, might be preserved.
This intervention showed a positive effect on vascular endothelial function, whereas other cardiac functional changes were unaffected. Although generally very safe, diving may be associated with serious, and sometimes fatal, consequences, which are usually related to decompression sickness. These new data raise the possibility that pre-dive intake of antioxidant vitamins may prevent some of the negative effects of diving on vascular function.
For those of you more versed in medical terminology, here’s the Journal of Physiology study results.