A study on Robuvit, an ingredient from Horphag Research that is slowly entering the US market, found that it may have endurance benefits on triathlon performance.
Published in the Italian journal Minerva Cardioangiologica, 54 amateur athletes were observed as they trained and performed a triathlon. In this pilot study, no placebo was used, and participants were allowed to choose which group they wanted to join—the supplement group or control group.
There was also no dietary requirement for participation in the study other than a suggested saline compound beverage (Polase).
“The aim of this open registry study was to evaluate the effects of Quercus robur [oak tree] supplementation on training and on possible improvements in endurance amongst healthy subjects who train and perform in a triathlon,” the researchers wrote.
Observations of Robuvit effects on performance time, oxidative stress levels
Based on the participants’ own preferences, the total group was divided into two: One that took Robuvit supplements (100 mg capsule three times a day with breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and another that didn’t.
Division of the groups were comparable, the researchers said, resulting in a similar make-up of age distribution and number of men and women.
Both groups went through the exact same training regimen in the same environment. The triathlon developed specifically for this study-model included: A swim distance in open seawater of 0.47 miles, a cycling distance of 12 miles, and a 3.1 mile run, conducted at beachside in Pescara, Italy, at 2 pm in the early summer. This activity was done eight times in a span of 14 days.
The researchers reported that higher level of plasma free radicals is associated with delayed recovery from fatigue. Hence, after exercises, in addition to total time spent on the triathlon course, post-exercise plasma free radical levels were measured one hour after the end of triathlon. It was measured using a photometric system developed for the global assessment of oxidative stress.
Faster triathlon times recorded for supplement group
“The improvement was greater with [Robuvit] (P<0.05) for the swim (-15.02% with QR vs. 7.15% in controls). The improvement in biking was also greater (P<0.05) with [Robuvit] (-9.3% vs. -1.2% in controls). The running time was decreased by 12.32% with [Robuvit] vs. 3.6% only in controls (P<0.05),” the researchers wrote, totalling to an average of 10.56% less time to complete a triathlon in the Robuvit group.
To put this in context, a reduction of 10.56% in the 100 minute triathlon means cutting off more than 10 minutes in the two weeks of training and supplementation, which the researchers described as moving athletes “from the slower 25% to the best 25% of the pack.” Improvement was seen parallel both in men and women.
They also found the control group to have 19.98% more plasma free radicals, indicating a higher level of oxidative stress after the final test run, which in turn may be associated to a slower recovery time post-training.
The compounds that the researchers think may be influencing these observations are oak tree exract’s hydrolysable tannins, namely ellagitannius. “Ellagitannins themselves are not physiologically active; they need to be transformed by intestinal microbiota into urolithins A-C, i.e. active metabolites,” the researchers wrote. Urolithin B has been postulated to inhibit the production of inflammatory interleukins.
“This combined action of the metabolites of QR against several inflammatory molecules and the protein-destroying matrix metalloproteases may explain the fast relief from fatigue, muscular pain and generally post-effort pain in most subjects after triathlon,” they wrote.
A sports nutrition potential
The study was published in 2015, but the ingredient’s manufacturers released it to US audiences in time for its stateside expansion.
They’ve partnered with nutrition personalities like Dr. Fred Pescatore to spread their message and raise brand awareness. "While most Americans aren't looking to run a triathlon event this year, many are looking for improved performance in their fitness routines or when they take on an endurance event like a 5K or an obstacle course race," Dr. Pescatore said in a press release.
A timely comment, as data from Running USA revealed that the number of Americans participating in running events continually increase.
“Energy is a big question in the US,” Victor Ferrari, CEO of Horphag, told NutraIngredients in a recent interview. “There are a lot of caffeine products, but I think the market is looking for caffeine alternatives.”
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