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Best Supplements for Athletes
While there are thousands of supplements on the market, many of them lack the scientific research to support their use. Each year dozens of new products come to market with bold claims.
However, there are only a handful that have been shown to be effective after thorough scientific scrutiny. Here are the best supplements for athletes, how they work, and some of the key considerations regarding them.
Do Athletes Need Supplements?
Not all athletes need supplements. Whether an athlete decides to take a supplement should depend on their unique situation, based upon the following criteria:
- The athletes sport of choice: athletes with higher demand sports may have a greater need for supplementation.
The athlete’s level of competition: athletes who compete at higher levels of competition may have a greater need for supplementation.
● Their overall dietary quality: athletes with environmental constraints to high quality food may have a greater need for supplementation
● Blood panel results: athletes who show deficiencies in certain nutrients may require supplementation.
Should an Athlete Take a Multivitamin?
As a rule, athletes do not need to take multivitamins unless there is a specific need for them as consuming vitamins or minerals above the RDA does not appear to result in enhanced performance.
However, athletes who do not eat a well-rounded diet or who compete in weight-controlled sports, may be at an increased risk for vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies, in which case a multivitamin may provide some benefit.
Performance Enhancement Considerations
Athletes who are looking to enhance their performance should focus on the following things:
- Total Energy Consumption: Athletes who are in energy balance perform better than athletes who are in a deficit.
- Macronutrient Requirements of Their Sport: Each sport has different metabolic demands and requires a different number of macronutrients in the diet to ensure optimal performance. For example, a basketball player will require more carbohydrates and, in their diet, than a shot putter for meeting the metabolic demands of their sport.
- Consume Adequate Micronutrients: Prevent deficiencies in micronutrientsto ensure an athlete does not experience subpar performance from a deficiency in key vitamins or minerals such as vitamin D or iron.
- Hydration: Ensure athletes are well hydrated.
- Supplementation: Once the four other key components are achieved, then performance enhancing supplements such as creatine, caffeine, and beta-alanine should be considered.
Which Micronutrients Should Endurance Athletes Focus on?
In general, athletes usually meet most of their micronutrient needs. However, there are a few key micronutrients athletes should pay close attention to as there are relatively high deficiency rates among athletes in the following micronutrients:● Vitamin D● Folate (among younger athletes)● Iron● MagnesiumOther micronutrients to pay attention to as there are some deficiencies present, but not to a substantial degree:● Vitamin B12 (female athletes at a higher risk compared to male athletes)