Supplements For Sports People
I am commonly asked by patients how I feel about specific supplements and which ones I would recommend. A well balanced diet is all the average person needs and food is always preferable to supplements! But sometimes sporty or very active people do just need an extra little help.
Probiotics during heavy training enhance your immune system and reduce the chance of getting a respiratory illness. I would always recommend these but only if you really can not stand eating live bio culture yogurt - just be careful to get natural and not a flavoured variety as there can be high levels of sugar in them.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and for periods of stress or intensified training, 600mg could be of benefit. But high doses of over 1g may actually prevent your muscles from adapting as a result of exercise. Vitamin E has a similar effect so these should be used with caution in high doses. Vitamin C helps aids the immune system and nervous system. Over 3g a day may cause stomach discomfort and diarrhoea.
A good way to get vitamin C is through a good quality greens supplement as they contain Vitamin C, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin K. Vitamin B12 helps reduce tiredness and fatigue and normalise metabolism. Vitamin K contributes to bone maintenance.
Fish oil is very good as an anti inflammatory. When you train, you effectively damage your muscles and then as they recover, they begin to alter to adapt to the training you are doing. The trouble is, as they become damaged, they become inflamed. Often athletes have problems such as tendonitis which is a chronic inflammatory condition.
Fish oils contain different fatty acids, including omega 3. This is an essential fatty acids, and they are referred to as essential as the body can't make them and must come from the diet (fish oil, krill oil and some plant and nut oils). Fish oil contains the omega 3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Research into omega 3 fatty acids have shown significant health benefits in a number of areas including heart and brain function, and the management of blood pressure and cholesterol.
Magnesium is also important as it activates over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. Magnesium is essential for nerve transmission, muscle contraction, blood coagulation, energy production, nutrient metabolism and bone and cell formation. Signs of deficiency include anxiety, difficulty sleeping, painful muscle spasms or cramping.
Magnesium is a required element of muscle relaxation, and without it our muscles would be in a constant state of contraction. Calcium, on the other hand, signals muscles to contract. Sometimes taking calcium supplements for bone health can actually reduce magnesium levels!
So then, as a quick recap, I would recommend probiotics, a greens supplement, fish oil and magnesium to anyone who was training intensely, doing a very physical job, had a very active lifestyle or was under an extreme amount of stress.