Effective Supplements And Vitamins For Athletes

Vitamins and minerals are essential for us to live a healthy life. As we get these vital nutrients from fruits and vegetables, we also incorporate these fruits and vegetables into our everyday meals for a balanced diet.

Because we’re often busy during the day and extremely exhausted at night, we end up failing to eat healthily. Our tight schedule does not provide us with enough time to have a proper 3-square meal, let alone a balanced diet. 

Still, we try to provide our body with the necessary nutrients that it needs to stay healthy and functional. This is why medical scientists have provided us with these nutrients in the form of supplements.

Food supplements, also known as dietary or nutritional supplements, provide nutrients that are not eaten in sufficient amounts. They are more concentrated nutrients that might be extracted from food substances or manufactured.

Most of these supplements are just single tablets a day, making them very suitable for our busy lives. They provide our body with the nutrients it needs for the day. This way, we do not lack any essential nutrients.

When we engage in strenuous activities or any activity at all that requires us to be active, we lose some of these nutrients. This is why athletes require more nutrients than the average person. They demand more from their bodies than even the most dedicated fitness fanatics and must compensate with the correct nutrients from foods or supplements to maintain top performance and recuperation.

The greater the intensity of the workout or sport, the higher the body’s nutrient requirements. Endurance athletes who engage in activities that require more than one hour of steady activity have unique requirements due to the demands placed on their bodies.

As athletes engage in different kinds of exercises to keep their bodies fit, they also need different kinds of nutrients to stay healthy. This article shows you some of the essential supplements and nutrients that can be very vital to an athlete.

There are three main areas that an athlete needs to focus on when training, as they demand more nutrients. And when there is a deficiency in any of these areas, the athlete's body will not be able to function optimally. That’s why it’s important to take supplements to replenish these nutrients when they are lost. These 3 areas are:

  • Energy Production
  • Performance Enhancement
  • Bone Health
  • Energy Production

Athletes use a lot of energy all the time, on the training ground and on the field. This means that the metabolism rate of their body is often on the high side. In metabolism, a number of vitamins are required. These vitamins aid in the breakdown of larger components like carbs and fatty acids into smaller units that the body may use to convert food into energy. Some of the vitamins needed for energy production include: 

  • Thiamin

This is a very important type of B vitamin; it is a water-soluble vitamin. Its main function is to help turn food into energy. Thiamin is required for a number of metabolic processes, including the breakdown of carbohydrates and the synthesis of branched-chain amino acids. The body doesn't produce this vitamin, but it uses it a lot, so it is essential to always load up on it. 

Food sources of this vitamin include Whole grains, Lentils.

  • Niacin

Niacin is another B vitamin; you should know that all the B vitamins play important roles in keeping our body healthy. Even though the body produces niacin, athletes still need to add to the amount with the right foods and supplements.

Niacin, like Thiamin, also helps in converting food into energy. Note that too little or too much niacin can cause a variety of unpleasant and potentially serious side effects, including diarrhea, dementia, rashes, and liver damage. Prioritize food sources above supplements. 

Food sources of this vitamin include: Fish, Turkey, Fruits, Legumes.

  • Performance Enhancement

The vitamins and minerals listed below are frequently used to improve an athlete's overall performance or to supplement a restricted diet. These supplements work on the immune system and nervous system, aid digestion, and hasten the recovery process.

As good as these supplements are, we advise that you concentrate more on acquiring these vitamins from food sources first. In the case where you can not get these vitamins from food, maybe because of food allergies or a restricted diet, you can opt for supplements. But use them as prescribed by a doctor as large amounts of some supplements can cause constipation, bone damage, and kidney stones. 

  • Vitamin B12

B12 or Cobalamin is another vital B vitamin. B12 acts as an ergogenic aid for athletes. It helps boost coordination, enhances melatonin production for better sleep, improves blood flow, and a whole lot more. 

Food sources of this vitamin include: Dairy products, Fîsh, Fortified cereals.

  • Iron

Iron is required for the transfer of oxygen throughout the body via the bloodstream. Iron deficiency can cause fatigue and have an impact on physical performance. Iron loss or absorption may occur as a result of exercise. There are 2 types of iron based on their hemoglobin content: Heme iron and nonheme iron.  Heme iron is obtained from meat, while non-heme is plant-based iron obtained from plants.

Food sources of this vitamin include: Turkey, Spinach, Prawns.

  • Caffeine

Caffeine has been demonstrated to boost energy levels, delay exhaustion, and improve physical endurance and performance, making it the most well-known and researched ergogenic aid. 

Caffeine, which is commonly present in pre-workout supplements, can provide you with a surge of energy and a little more motivation to get things moving. Caffeine can also be used throughout a workout to keep you going during those extra-long runs or those last few sets in the gym. 

Food sources of this supplement include: Coffee, Cacao, Guarana

  • Bone Health

Acrobatics, jumping and running and other strenuous activities leave the bones and joints stressed. Athletes need strong, healthy bones as frail bones will make them susceptible to severe injuries that could take a while to heal. Vitamin D and calcium are two vitamins and minerals that promote bone health.

  •  Vitamin D

There is a scientifically proven connection between adequate vitamin D levels and optimum muscular function. Vitamin D increases protein synthesis,  strength, jump height, power and velocity, and overall physical performance. It also helps in reducing inflammation, discomfort, and myopathy that can result from exercises and training. 

Food sources of this vitamin include: Milk, Sunlight, 

  • Calcium

Calcium is necessary for nerve function and hormone release, in addition to bone health. Athletes are more vulnerable to losing calcium through sweating. Calcium is very beneficial to athletes because it helps with muscle contractions and prevents muscle cramps.

Food sources of this vitamin: Dairy products, Green leafy vegetables, Fortified soya milk.