To reach your performance potential as an athlete, whether recreational or elite, you need the right fuel to feed your body. Unfortunately, many of us fall short of getting the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals our bodies need to succeed.
Ingesting healthy nutrition formulas through supplementation is one way to offset the deficit athletes encounter when they have an inadequate diet. Here are five supplements and nutrients athletes can benefit from when pursuing their exercise-related goals.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that isn’t produced by our bodies. That means that we must get it through our diet by consuming leafy greens, fish, nuts, and seeds or via supplementation. Magnesium is important for protein synthesis, working our metabolism, and healing injuries, all of which play a significant role in an active lifestyle.
If you often get muscle spasms or have an unusual craving for chocolate, you may have a magnesium deficiency. Try to make adjustments by throwing some spinach in a smoothie or consider a high-quality supplement.
Vitamin B consists of a large group of vitamins under one umbrella: vitamin B12, riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), thiamine (B1), and pyridoxine (B6) are commonly sought after B vitamins. Not having enough B vitamins can cause a decrease in energy (common in vegetarian and vegan athletes who tend to fall short on vitamin B12) and general aches and pains.
As the B vitamins are largely responsible for converting sugars and proteins into energy athletes can use during their training regimen or competition, it’s necessary to ensure that they are getting enough overall.
Ironically, pumping iron in the gym can deplete your iron levels in the body. Iron is derived from red meat, legumes, and leafy greens. Female athletes and vegetarian or vegan athletes are likely to face an iron deficiency at some point without supplementation. Signs of low iron include easy bruising, poor hair, nail, and skin quality, and low energy levels.
Iron helps carry oxygen to blood cells and ensures that everything is growing and flowing as it should in your bloodstream. If you don’t have enough iron in your body, you may be disappointed by your inability to lift enough iron on the platform, especially if you’re a powerlifter or Olympic weightlifter.
If you’re an endurance athlete– if you run or play field sports– you may find yourself susceptible to leg cramps and muscle spasms. As a result, you may have been told to drink more water or eat a banana. The latter suggestion is because of the high levels of potassium found in bananas (as well as sweet potatoes, avocados, and legumes).
Potassium is responsible for controlling cell membrane functions, such as how your muscles contract and release and how your nerve impulses fire– hence the leg cramps when you don’t have enough. If you get a lot of potassium in your diet but still have problems, speak to a medical professional as you may have an underlying absorption issue.
Being active can both toughen the bones and be tough on them, especially if you don’t get the proper nutritional intake to help strengthen them against impact. Whether you’re in full contact sports or just have to run around a lot, your bones take a beating as your feet strike the ground.
Calcium not only impacts your bone health but also assists with hormone regulation and muscle contractions. Calcium intake is especially important for female athletes and those who have a high caffeine intake. In addition to dairy products, you can get calcium in your diet by eating broccoli, green leafy vegetables, and almonds.
To get the most out of your nutrients, try to focus on eating a varied diet full of raw, minimally processed foods. If you still fall short, consider taking a high-quality supplement to make up the difference and fuel your body for athletic performance.