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Do athletes need more vitamins? Which nutrients are best for athletes? How can athletes enhance their performance?

These are questions that we frequently hear from our customers. In today's blog post we want to take a closer look at the recommended supplements for athletes and their benefits for health. 

We´ll also cover some nutrition myths and other interesting facts connected to athletic health. 


Why do athletes need supplements?

If your body doesn't get the nutrient it needs, it cannot function at an optimal level. Low levels of nutrients can lead to deficiencies and a number of problems that can then affect athletic performance. 

While food is the most important source of nutrients, the body usually needs more vitamins and minerals with regular physical activity. Especially if you sweat a lot during exercise, you will lose a substantial amount of nutrients, for example sodium, chloride, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and potassium. 

In some cases maintaining optimal nutrient levels may require taking certain supplements or using sport drinks, especially if you have a physically demanding fitness regimen. 


What are the best supplements for athletes?

Although all vitamins and minerals are essential for health, a few are especially crucial for athletes. Here´s a list of nutrients that are beneficial for athletes in particular. 

B vitamins 

Each B vitamin—including folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, pantothenic acid, and biotin— performs unique functions in the body, but many of them work together and complement each other. 

Among the B vitamins, B12 stands out for its function in red blood cell production and the synthesis of DNA - something that is important for every athlete. 

Vitamins B12 and B6 both contribute to normal energy-yielding metabolism and a reduction in tiredness and fatigue making them a great choice for athletes. In addition, they contribute to normal functioning of the nervous system, immune system and psychological function. 

B vitamins contained in our B Complex support a whole host of important bodily processes that underpin general health and wellbeing. 

Magnesium

Most people think of magnesium only in the context of muscle and nerve function. The truth ist that magnesium is involved in over 300 chemical reactions in the body. In fact, every cell of the body contains it. 

Research suggests that magnesium requirements are higher in athletes, and that performance might benefit from higher intakes making this another must-have for athletes. 

Magnesium is involved in: 

  • Energy creation 
  • Gene maintenance 
  • Muscle movements 
  • Protein formation 
  • Maintaining normal nerve function 

Research suggests that endurance athletes can safely consume 500 to 800 mg daily, and there is debate as to whether this amount should be higher still.

Vitamin D 

Vitamin D is involved in various regulatory processes in human body cells and therefore plays a key role for our overall health. Among other things, it contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system, bones and muscles. 

Vitamin D also aids in regulation of electrolyte metabolism, protein synthesis, gene expression, functions that are essential for elite and recreational athletes alike. 

The high-dose vitamin D3 from AAVALABS contains 5000 IU vitamin D3 per softgel capsule. The combination with extra virgin olive oil ensures fast and efficient absorption, as vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. In addition, you get a pure product that is free from allergens, gluten and genetic engineering. 

If you take a capsule like a "depot" every 5 days - this corresponds to a daily consumption of 25 µg (1000 I.U., 500% RM) - this product offers you a high benefit at a reasonable price while still providing maximum quality.

In this way you can optimally cover your vitamin D requirements, especially in winter, and prevent or correct a deficiency. 

Vitamin C 

Research suggests that even marginal vitamin C deficiency may impact exercise performance. 

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, protecting muscle cells from free radical damage, thus enhancing recovery and growth. Vitamin C is also involved in the formation of collagen. 

As collagen is the primary constituent of connective tissue it is an important component for healthy tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles - something every athlete is concerned about. 

Zinc 

Athletes who have low levels of zinc are at risk for decreased bone mineral density, which can lead to bone fractures. Zinc is necessary to form collagen tissue, to unite bone fractures, to heal wounds, and to prevent osteoporosis.

This is the reason why zinc supplements have been widely advocated for athletes. 

Other nutrients that are good for athletes:  

Other supplements frequently used by athletes include potassium + sodium, caffeine, nitrate, bicarbonate, beta-alanine, BCAA, and glutamine. 


Sport nutrition myths to be aware of 

It's good to have basic knowledge about vitamins and minerals, but besides that it is also good to be aware of common nutrition myths. If you are a member in a gym or any other sport community you will probably hear hundreds of tips related to nutrition. Unfortunately there are many stubborn myths that tend to confuse athletes. 


Myth #1: The more protein you eat, the more muscle you will gain

While muscle tissue is made up of protein and athletes might need more protein than others, the majority of athletes can easily cover their protein needs without additional products. Make sure to include healthy protein sources to your diet, such as fish, poultry,nuts and seeds, tofu, and pulses. 

Myth #2: All fat is unhealthy 

As this article by Harvard Health Publishing shows dietary fats are essential for maintaining good overall health. 

The key is to choose unsaturated quality oils instead of saturated fats that are commonly found in processed foods and fast foods. Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. 

Myth #3: Supplements are a waste of money 

We recently interviewed our Head of Product Development Libby. During our discussion we also covered some of the biggest misconceptions about supplements. Here's what Libby had to say: 

The biggest misconception surrounding supplements is that we do not need them and we can get all the nutrients from our fruit and vegetables. While in some regions of the world there is nutrient dense soil, the majority of countries have nutrient depleted soils due to a variety of environmental factors, meaning the nutrients are no longer in as higher quantities are transferred into our fruits and vegetables. 

Thus the need for food supplements has increased greatly since a variation in more traditional diets to western diets as well as lifestyles such as veganism which require supplementation in order to top up or replenish our body's requirements of certain nutrients which we may become deficient in.

Myth #4: Energy bars are the best way to fuel a workout 

Many athletes rely on protein bars and other “healthy” snacks after workout. 

While these products may seem like a convenient option, we recommend taking a closer look at the ingredients list. Often snack bars contain added preservatives, sweeteners, and emulsifiers. 

The solution? Replace protein bars healthy home-made alternatives

Striking a balance is the key

One of the most common misconceptions in connection with supplements is that more is automatically better. This is not true, even for athletes.  

First at all vitamins and supplements are meant to complement a healthy diet, never replace it. 

Before taking supplements make sure you get the basics right. A healthy, balanced diet should include a variety of fruit and vegetables every day plus healthy fats, grains and protein. 

We recommend consulting a (sports) physician or nutritionist in order to find the best nutrient combination for your individual needs. Picking the right supplements will help you achieve better results than randomly taking multiple products or overdosing.  

As Libby, our in-house expert, says: “Every individual is different in their diet and lifestyle choices - so there is generally never a single product which I would recommend to people.”

We also recommend reading our blog post 7 Things you Should Know Before Taking Supplements.

 



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