Even if you've trained all autumn long, you'll probably still be sore after your first day on the slopes. But there may be a way to prevent that muscle hangover.
Jennifer Sacheck and Jeffrey Blumberg, researchers at Tufts University, tested the soreness of two sets of men-ages 23-35 and ages 66-78-after a 45-minute downhill treadmill run. The test was then repeated three months later, after the subjects had taken either a 1,000-I.U. supplement of vitamin E (about 45 times the recommended daily allowance) or a soy oil placebo every day. Post-run, both age groups who had popped vitamin E reported less soreness.
Blumberg believes that vitamin E, an antioxidant, counters the byproducts of oxygen metabolism-which can damage muscle tissue during strenuous exercise. He found that the levels of creatine kinase-an enzyme that leaks into the blood from injured muscle cells-in the younger set were up to 50 percent lower when they ingested the vitamin, suggesting that the vitamin might protect the cell membranes.
Getting enough E is a challenge: An ordinary diet usually adds up to only 15 to 25 I.U. per day (through fortified cereals, vegetable oils, and nuts), so reach for supplements to bolster your intake. Fortunately, you don't need to match the dosage used in Blumberg's study: There have been positive responses with doses as low as 400 I.U.