6 Supplements Athletes Should Never Skip
We all know you need exercise to stay healthy. What you may not have considered is that exercise uses some of the valuable nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in your body, and that intense exercise can reduce some of your stores of these nutrients. Exercise also places additional strain on your body and can influence important factors, like bone density, over the long term.
The FAT triad, or Female Athlete Triad, is a condition that affects female athletes, particularly those females involved in endurance sports. Events like the Comrades Marathon can take a physical toll on health. In a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine, female athletes were unaware of the FAT triad or the dangers posed by endurance training. The dangers include a loss of bone density, fatigue, and menstrual disorders, all of which can have a disastrous impact on health in later life.
Exercise is healthy, but you need the proper nutrition support. When you exercise, your body uses the following nutrients:
- You use proteins to fuel metabolism, to repair and reform muscles, and to build the body.
- You use carbohydrates to produce glucose for fuel.
- You use vitamin B to support muscle function and to produce energy for your cells.
- You use fat and fuel and to allow the production of new cells in the body.
- You use vitamin C, selenium, and other antioxidants to protect the body from the damage that exercise can cause.
- You use mineral like calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium to support the muscles and the skeletal system.
Without adequate intake of these nutrients, exercise can deplete them from your body, and this could end up harming it over the years.
Here are 6 supplements that are essential for anyone who exercises regularly.
Every time you produce energy to move, your cells produce free radicals in the form of reactive oxygen species. The more energy you produce, the more reactive oxygen species you produce.
Oxidation is the term used to describe the damage that free radicals do to proteins in your body. Your muscles are primarily proteins. When free radicals like reactive oxygen species damage the muscle cells and tissues of your body through oxidation, these protein structures must be replaced with new tissue. To replace this tissue, your body needs a certain amount of protein. Prolonged periods of energy production often result in protein oxidation and amino acid oxidation.
Signs of muscle tissue damage after exercise include muscle pain, stiffness, and fatigue. Branched chain amino acids, or BCAA, are amino acids your body needs to build new muscle tissue and to provide protection against oxidation. In a study published in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, researchers found that the consumption of branched chain amino acid supplements before and after exercise reduced the soreness patients experienced after exercise. In another study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, researchers found that supplementation with branched chain amino acids enhanced exercise capacity and reduced fatigue.
Branched chain amino acids and amino acids are vital for allowing your body to resist the physical demands of exercise and for ensuring that the body remains well maintained.
A good branched chain amino acid supplement provides your body with the building blocks to produce new structures and, if you are exercising regularly, then you should make sure your protein intake supports your body's efforts to keep you healthy.
Your body needs a constant supply of healthy fats, particularly if you exercise regularly. Fats supply your body with medium-term energy, which is vital for fueling recovery and endurance exercise. Fats are the transport mechanism used to help store and transport fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, and E to where your body needs them.
The production of new muscle tissue and muscle repair also relies on sufficient fats. Each muscle and nerve cell has an outer coating called the cell membrane, and cell membranes are composed entirely of fats. Without sufficient fats, your body will not have the vital building blocks necessary to build or repair your muscles and other tissues.
In a study published in Italy, researchers found that the intake of healthy fatty acids like CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) could help to preserve muscle tissue.
But not all fats are equal. In fact, the distinction between good and bad fats is part of the reason why fats have gained such a bad reputation for many years. As an athlete, is it therefore essential to distinguish between good and bad fats and to include sufficient good fats in your daily diet.
Good fats provide your body with vital omega essential fatty acids that repair cells, prevent fatigue, and improve performance. In one study published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers showed that 21 days of omega supplementation improved neuromuscular function and reduced fatigue in male athletes.
Omega 3 fatty acids play a role in regulating inflammation and, as an athlete, you are prone to increased inflammation as a result of your training schedule. Free radicals cause inflammation, and exercise increases the production of free radicals. By ensuring an adequate intake of the EPA and DHA contained in omega 3, you are giving your body the tools to help regulate and reduce inflammation.The inclusion of fatty fish, fish oil, and fats like olive oil are all essential for supporting health and, as an athlete, an omega 3 supplement could be highly beneficial for supporting your training efforts.
Energy is the currency of exercise. Without energy, you cannot get the most from your training sessions, and your body cannot survive without energy.
The vitamins in the vitamin B group of vitamins are water soluble vitamins that cannot be stored by your body. This is particularly important for athletes and for individuals who exercise regularly, since exercise can deplete your stores of vitamin B. You need to replace vitamin B on a daily basis to support your general health and your ability to produce energy.
Your muscles rely on vitamin B to allow them to convert glucose into short term energy. Your body needs vitamin B to repair and replace damaged muscle tissue. Vitamin B is found in a variety of foods, but, unless you spend the time to create a balanced diet that contains the right proportion of vitamin B, or unless you have a nutritionist taking care of your nutritional needs, ensuring you get sufficient vitamin B can be challenging.
A timed release vitamin B supplement gives you the opportunity to provide your body with all of the vitamin B vitamins on a consistent basis to support your training efforts.
If you are feeling tired, run down, or even sick after exercise, then you may be running low on glutamine. Glutamine is one of the amino acids that your body needs to provide the body with the essential building blocks of health.
Body builders are aware of the power of glutamine for supporting muscle mass, for building muscle, and for preventing muscle loss.
Glutamine serves various functions in terms of supporting your needs as an athlete. Your body uses glutamine to regulate and maintain healthy levels of glycogen. As an athlete, you rely on glycogen to power your muscles and cells. Higher levels of glutamine can help to ensure your body has sufficient glycogen during exercise, and this can help you get the most from your training.
In a study published in the American Journal of Physiology, researchers found that glutamine supplementation stimulated glycogen accumulation in the skeletal muscles. More glycogen means more energy, which translates into more effective training for you as an athlete.
A glutamine supplement can be beneficial for supporting your training. It may also support the health of your digestive system, and it encourages healthy cognitive function.
You cannot underestimate vitamin D for supporting your body during training. Your body needs sufficient vitamin D to be able to absorb calcium, to absorb some of the minerals that regulate electrolyte balance, and to promote bone health.
As an athlete, your bones and skeletal system are often placed under great amounts of strain and, to protect your skeletal system and your joints in the long term, it is important to be able to repair and maintain healthy bones and joints.
Your body normally produces vitamin D to help meet your needs for this vital vitamin, but, for athletes in the Northern Hemisphere who train indoors and for athletes who primarily train in the gym, their bodies are often not directly exposed to sufficient sunlight. For athletes training in winter the same principle applies.
In a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, scientists found that bone formation follows seasonal patterns, with the greatest amount of bone loss occurring during the winter months, and that vitamin D3 supplementation provides a simple and cost-effective method to help prevent bone loss due to vitamin D deficiencies.
There are very few sources of vitamin D in natural foods. For athletes, this means that the only viable way to increase your levels of vitamin D is through a daily vitamin D supplement. A calcium supplement that contains vitamin D and vitamin K is also a great way to provide calcium, along with vitamins D and K, to ensure your bones and skeletal system have the nutrients needed to remain healthy and strong.
Staying healthy is a top priority for most athletes, and protecting your body from potential damage and harm can be a key to ensuring long term health. Free radicals and reactive oxygen species can place additional strain on your immune system. Free radicals cause systemic inflammation, which translates to aches, pains, swelling, and redness. These symptoms can influence your ability to train well.
Inflammation increases your risks of developing various other diseases, like arthritis and cardiovascular disease, and these diseases could spell disaster for your long-term health and end your career as an athlete.
Sadly, when it comes to exercise, free radicals are a natural part of the process of energy being manufactured. The more energy your body produces, the more free radicals it produces as a consequence of the energy production cycle. An increase in free radicals and a decrease in immune system function mean that you are at risk of getting sick after particularly intense bouts of exercise.
In fact, studies have shown that endurance athletes experience extreme stress in the body, and they are at higher risks of developing respiratory tract infections.
Antioxidants that can benefit athletes to help support immune function, and that can help to reduce free radicals in the body include vitamin C, beta-carotene, and nutrients like zinc and selenium.
When choosing an antioxidant, make sure your antioxidant supplement includes both water and fat soluble compounds to provide antioxidant protection to the entire body.
Health is about balance. Exercise is essential for health, but balance in exercise is the best type of exercise. The same is applicable to a healthy diet. To maintain health in the long term, a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle are essential.
Endurance events can harm your health if you don't support your body with the nutrients necessary to repair and recover. Exercise without proper nutrition can harm your body and leave you open to an increased risk of infection.
Supplements that provide additional nutrition can offer you an opportunity to support your body with the nutrients you need to train well and live well. Although supplements never replace a healthy diet, they do help you to provide your body with vital daily nutrients that can mean the difference between being a top athlete or a sick one.
If you are trying to get the most from your training schedule, don't forget to train your body with the nutrients it needs. Consult your physician about the additional nutritional requirements you may need to help you stay on track with your training program.
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