Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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MSM protects muscle proteins during exercise

Take your bodyweight in kgs and divide it by 10. The result is the number of grams MSM you need to protect your muscles against breakdown during intensive physical exertion, according to a human study done by physiologists in Iran in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research. MSM, a supplement easily available in pharmacies and online, has anticatabolic properties.

That MSM full name methylsulfonylmethane can protect athletes' muscles is not news. We posted an article about it a few years ago, but that was about the effects of MSM during strength training. The Iranian study is about endurance training.

Experimental setup
The researchers gave eight untrained men 100 mg MSM per kg bodyweight, dissolved in water, on one occasion. A control group of the same size drank just water.

Two hours later the subjects had to run on a treadmill. First they had to run for 45 minutes on a treadmill at an intensity of 75 percent of their maximal oxygen uptake. That meant they were incapable of holding a conversation.

The researchers then increased the speed of the belt every two minutes, until the men could no longer keep up.

Broken down protein
Before and after the session the researchers measured the amount of oxidised protein in the form of protein carbonyl [PC] in the men's blood. Much of this protein comes out of the muscles, where proteins are damaged during intensive exercise. MSM reduced the amount of protein carbonyl after the session.

MSM protects muscle proteins during exercise

Free radicals
Protein carbonyl is formed during physical exertion, above all as a result of the activity of free radicals in the muscle cells. MSM reduced this activity the researchers discovered when they measured the concentration of malondialdehyde [MDA] in the subjects' blood. MDA is a marker for free radical activity.

MSM protects muscle proteins during exercise

"It seems that acute administration of MSM prior to exercise may alleviate some markers of oxidative stress", the researchers write. "The exact mechanism of MSM on attenuating the markers of oxidative stress is not well established and further exploration is needed."

Iran J Pharm Res. 2013 Fall;12(4):845-53.

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