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What You Need to Know About Vitamins and Supplements
Did you know historians have proven that athletes have been using supplements and vitamins since the original Olympic Games in Ancient Greece?
Vitamins and supplements have been at the front of conversation among athletes since the beginning of athletic competitions. We’re here to tell you all you need to know about what vitamins you should be getting and how to know if you’re getting enough for your peak performance.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."— Will Durant
An athlete's needs
A balanced diet combined with a healthy lifestyle is usually sufficient enough to give most average people the energy and nutrients they need for day-to-day activities. As athletes, we’re constantly pushing our bodies to our peak performance and beyond, so generally, athletes need a little extra nutrient boost, especially when it comes to those vitamins that provide energy.
Let’s get scientific for a second. Athletes are constantly pushing their limits. Exercise puts added stress on our metabolic pathways, where vitamins and nutrients are used, which speeds up the loss of nutrients. Athletes generally lose nutrients faster, meaning they should replace them more than the average person.
But don’t just run to the pharmacy and buy one of every type just to load up on vitamins thinking you’ll get an extra performance boost. It’s important to understand the recommended intakes of whatever vitamins you decide to take so you’re not overdoing it — this could actually have the opposite effect of what you’re going for. The key here is to figure out where you might be deficient and create a plan, whether diet-based or using supplements, to fix that deficiency. Of course, it’s always recommended to check with a doctor or dietitian before you start taking any supplements.
5 effective vitamins and supplements for athletes.
According to research, iron deficiency is one of the most common among athletes and is more commonly found in female athletes. Having low iron levels can cause your body to use more energy than average and reduce your endurance levels, which of course, would impact your athletic performance. As with most vitamins, a food-first approach is always recommended. So, including more iron-rich foods in your diet, like shellfish, spinach, and beans, should be your first step before taking supplements. If your body already has sufficient iron levels, taking supplements will not provide you with any benefits and could cause more negative effects like joint and abdominal pain, fatigue and weakness, and nausea.
Calcium and vitamin D
Both these nutrients help your body build and maintain strong and healthy bones, teeth, and muscles, including your heart. This means they’ll help you maintain muscle mass and reduce the risks of injuries like muscle strains, bone fractures, and breaks. If you don’t get enough vitamin D and calcium, you’re at higher risk of developing osteoporosis, long-term muscle aches and pain, and general aches and weakness. Incorporating foods rich in these nutrients is the best way to increase your consumption, like dairy products, dark green vegetables like broccoli and kale, and “soft-boned” fish like sardines and salmon.
Creatine is a very popular supplement when it comes to legal nutritional sports performance enhancement. Research shows that using creatine supplements can increase muscle mass and improve strength when combined with strength training. It also has proven benefits for older adults to increase lean muscle mass and strength. Generally, creatine supplements are combined with other supplements, typically caffeine, taurine, and amino acids, to help improve focus and energy while providing a boost of creatine. Incorporating more red meats and seafood can also help increase creatine counts without using supplements.
Zinc helps grow and repair muscle tissues, general immunity, and energy production, making it very important for athletes who put a lot of stress on their muscles. Athletes whose diets are low in overall energy and animal proteins and high-fibre diets, like vegetarian or vegan diets, are especially at risk for zinc deficiency. While it’s essential to supplement this if you have a deficiency, as with most other vitamins, it's advised not to take zinc supplements unless necessary. Consuming too much zinc can cause low HDL cholesterol and other nutrient imbalances that will affect how your body takes in other vitamins, which is dangerous long-term. If you need more zinc in your diet, foods like red meat, poultry, wheat germ, and wild rice are high in zinc content.
Protein is probably one of the most talked about supplements in the athletic world; we’ve even talked about it before. Protein helps your body grow and repair cells and essentially helps your body function in all the ways it should, on top of boosting your immune system. It’s generally hyped up for its ability to control appetite and promote muscle growth, which is why it's so popular among athletes. Studies have shown that extra protein is only really needed when you’re frequently doing activities like weight lifting or other intense workouts to help your body repair and grow your muscles after those workouts. Protein shakes and powders are the most convenient way to get that extra protein boost, but eating protein-packed foods like chicken, eggs, fish, beans, and seeds is just as effective.
As with any new change to your diet or significant lifestyle change, you want to be mindful of what your body actually needs so you don’t overdo it. Always be sure to check with your doctor or dietitian before taking any new supplements.
Another powerful complementary supplement to these 5 essentials is CBD. It holds some incredible benefits for athletes, like reducing the risk of injury and speeding up muscle recovery. That’s why we created our CBD collection to help athletes at every step of their journey, from pre-workout prep to post-workout recovery and everything in between. Check out the entire DRYWORLD CBD collection and see what CBD can do for you.
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