Supportive Supplements for Endurance Athletes
Supplements are an important addition to an endurance athlete’s diet. They provide missing nutrients that are not obtained by food in their diet or synthesized within the body. While whole-food sources of micronutrients are usually absorbed better than supplement forms, it can be challenging to obtain the optimal amounts, so a careful review of an athlete’s individual requirements is crucial to strong athletic performance.
When it comes to selecting supplements, make sure to review quality level and ingredients. All supplement brands and products are not created equal and therefore require a careful review of nutrition labels. Try to avoid excess fillers and opt for whole food vitamins. They are more bioavailable than synthetic vitamins, which means your body can absorb them better.
Here are my top recommended supplements and whole foods source list:
Benefits: Energy production, protein synthesis, tissue repair and maintenance, faster recovery, increased performance and nervous system support
Top Whole Food Sources:
Non-animal: lentils, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast
Animal: salmon, tuna, cod, scallops and beef
Benefits: Aids in digestion, reduces inflammation in cases of sports injury and enhances wound healing
Top Whole Food Sources: Pineapple
Omega-3 Fish Oil
Benefits: Increases protein synthesis, increases muscle strength and physical performance, reduces exercise-induced muscle damage and may strengthen bones
Top Whole Food Sources: Salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna
Benefits: helps to convert food into energy, relaxes muscles, regulates nervous system, reduces muscle cramping and lowers blood pressure
Top Whole Food Sources: Pumpkin seeds, spinach, swiss chard, sesame seeds and cashews
This is not an all-inclusive list of supplements. In addition to the supplements listed above, consider adding a multivitamin, which can help to mitigate vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Consider working with a nutrition consultant to determine your individual needs. Before adding these important supplements to your diet, consult with your doctor.
*Important Note: Vitamin B12 deficiency is more common in vegetarian, vegan and female athletes, therefore focusing on B12 supplements and food sources is very important.
**Important Note: Increase your magnesium intake gradually, as consuming too much initially may cause a laxative effect.
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Murray, M. (2005) Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY.