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

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Vitamin E protects testes while taking steroids

Vitamin E

Testosterone propionate
While on a course of steroids, taking extra vitamin E [upper structural formula shown below] reduces damage caused to the testes. An animal study published 6 years ago in Andrologia by animal scientists from Harran University, Turkey, confirms this. Using this antioxidant vitamin as a supplement reduces the damage that free radicals cause to cells in the testes as a result of taking testosterone propionate [the lower of the two structural formulas].

If you put androgens into an animal or human, the testes start to produce less testosterone and sperm cells. The pituitary gland in the brain emits less of the messenger hormones LH and FSH, which keep the testes active. As a result, free radicals take over and endocrinologists suspect that the testes shrinkage that occurs when taking a course of steroids, along with the reduction in testosterone and sperm production, is at least in part the work of the free radicals. And you can guess where that is leading: the Turkish researchers wanted to know whether giving extra vitamin E would help shield the testes from the negative impact of a course of testosterone.

The researchers injected male rabbits every other day with 10 mg testosterone propionate. The gave another group of rabbits not just testosterone propionate but also a 100 mg injection of vitamin E per kg bodyweight, also every other day. That amount of vitamin E is on the high side. Other groups of experimental animals were either given nothing [Control] or just vitamin E.

The experiment lasted 6 weeks. Afterwards the researchers looked at what had happened to the animals' testes.

Vitamin E protects testes while taking steroids

Vitamin E protects testes while taking steroids

GSH = reduced glutathione; MDA = malondialdehyde; GSH-PX = GSH peroxidase.

The activity of the antioxidant endogenous enzyme GSH-peroxidase declined as a result of the testosterone injections, but vitamin E supplementation compensated for this to some extent.

The concentration of malondialdehyde increased as a result of the male sex hormone injections. Malondialdehyde is produced when free radicals attack fatty acids in the cell membranes. Apparently vitamin E prevents this to some extent.

The vitamin C concentration declined as a result of the vitamin E supplementation. That's probably because vitamin E uses vitamin C to regenerate itself. [Hmmm. Might that mean that giving vitamin C and E works better than administering only vitamin E?]

"Vitamin E may be administered in order to protect the testis tissue from oxidative damage enhanced by testosterone", the researchers write in the conclusion of their article.

If vitamin E and other antioxidants really do protect the testes against steroids courses, then moderate users might benefit. Whether the same goes for chronic high-dose users, we're not so sure. If people with a congenital heart problem take 400 IE vitamin E daily, then their chance of heart failure due to an enlarged left ventricle increases. [JAMA. 2005 Mar 16;293(11):1338-47.] And an enlarged left ventricle is also a side effect of chronic use of high doses of steroids.

Andrologia. 2004 Oct; 36(5): 277-81.

Animal study: running reduces effect of steroids on testes 15.02.2010
Animal study: vitamin C protects prostate of steroids users 09.10.2009
Testosterone riskier for fat men with short andro-genes 22.09.2009