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

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Short of oxygen? Beetroot juice helps

Short of oxygen? Beetroot juice helps
In sports where you sometimes run short of breath, like diving, but possibly also in other sports where oxygen uptake can be a limiting factor, supplementation with beetroot juice can have a performance enhancing effect. Swedish researchers write about this in Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology.

The researchers did an experiment with 12 divers, all of whom practised holding their breath as long as possible for at least two hours a week.

The divers had to hold their breath as long as possible on two separate occasions in a lab. On one occasion the participants had drunk 70 ml beetroot juice concentrate 2.5 hours beforehand - yes, James White Drinks []. On the other occasion they drank beetroot juice that did not contain nitrates [Placebo].


The participants were able to hold their breath for 11 percent longer after drinking beetroot juice [Nitrate] than after drinking the placebo.

Short of oxygen? Beetroot juice helps

The researchers measured the percentage of haemoglobin molecules attached to oxygen in the participants' blood after they had held their breath for 2 minutes [Sub maximal] and after they had held their breath for as long as they could [Maximal]. Haemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that transports oxygen and is found in the red blood cells.

As the figure below shows, the researchers found less oxygen when the participants had drunk beetroot juice. From this you can conclude that beetroot juice helps cells to absorb more oxygen from the blood.

Short of oxygen? Beetroot juice helps

The researchers think that beetroot juice might be an interesting supplement for athletes who sometimes need to hold their breath, as divers do.

We, the ignorant compilers of this free webzine, suspect that athletes who practise sports where you consume large quantities of oxygen during short explosive bursts of exertion, like skiing or snowboarding, might also benefit from beetroot juice supplementation.

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2012 Jul 1;182(2-3):53-9.

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