Zinc and copper biochemical indices of antioxidant status in elite athletes of different modalities

Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004 Jun;14(3):358-72. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.14.3.358.


The purpose of this study was to compare zinc and copper biochemical indices of antioxidant status and their relationship in elite athletes of different modalities: aerobic with high-impact (triathletes, n = 10 and long-distance runners, n = 12), anaerobic with high-impact (short-distance runners, n = 9), and anaerobic with low-impact (short-distance swimmers, n = 13). The influence of recent dietary intake and body composition was also evaluated. A venous blood sample was drawn 16-20 hr after competition for the following measurements: packed-cell volume and hemoglobin in blood; copper and zinc in plasma and erythrocytes; ceruloplasmin in plasma; superoxide dismutase activity and metal-lothionein in erythrocytes; and erythrocyte osmotic fragility. Zinc and copper intakes were not different in the athlete groups and did not affect the biochemical indices measured. Athletes of the long-distance high-impact aerobic modalities had higher indices of antioxidant protection (erythrocyte zinc, superoxide dismutase activity, and metallothionein) than those of the short-distance low-impact modalities, suggesting that there is adaptation of the antioxidant capacity to the specific training. Significant correlations were observed in all athletes between erythrocyte zinc, superoxide dismutase activity, and metallothionein consistent with the importance of an adequate zinc status in the response of antioxidant mechanisms to intense exercise.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Copper / administration & dosage
  • Copper / blood*
  • Diet
  • Erythrocytes / chemistry
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Nutritional Status
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Running / physiology
  • Swimming / physiology
  • Zinc / administration & dosage
  • Zinc / blood*


  • Antioxidants
  • Copper
  • Zinc