In a perfect world, we don’t need supplements. A well-rounded diet of meats, whole fruits and vegetables, nuts and grains provides the body with all the micro- and macronutrients needed to function and be healthy. But this world isn’t perfect and many Americans don’t have the diet necessary to take in these nutrients. Too much of our food is processed and factory farmed, leaving what we eat lacking for nutritional substance.
But even for those who are eating a complete diet, just “getting by” may not be the goal. There are runners, bodybuilders, CrossFit competitors, power lifters and other competitive athletes looking to get more out of what they put into their bodies. For most, the right food does just fine. But for those looking to perform at the highest level, these are the supplements the body craves most.
The magic nutrient from the sun is so important that not having it can increase the risk of autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis and lupus. In fact, regions of the earth farther away from the equator, where less sunlight is prevalent, are more likely to develop these diseases. As far as athletes are concerned, vitamin D is great for bone health and the immune system.
Also known as CoQ10, this substance acts as both a vitamin and antioxidant to help speed recovery after exercise. While our cells naturally make CoQ10 on their own, supplementation helps boost both the dose and its positive effects.
Athletes have been using creatine for more than 20 years, but now there is virtually zero doubt that this supplement is all benefits with no risks. Creatine rose to prominence in the 1990s for its ability to increase strength output during exercise but was also met with skepticism. While a few studies here and there showed potential risks such as hair loss, they’ve all been debunked and creatine has the green light for your next workout. It helps boost the ATP (energy, basically) in your muscles so that you can complete that last rep, mile or lap.
We typically associate nitrates with preservatives like those found in bacon, but the nitrates found in vegetables such as beets, celery and red spinach have incredible health benefits that support better blood flow and heart health. Athletes use beet juice supplements to help increase endurance, especially for long distance running and other endurance sports. You can get these beneficial nitrates from eating whole beets or finding specialized supplements that take the extract from the juices (these usually contain a higher concentration).
So where are these supplements actually found?:
- A good daily multivitamin will take care of most nutrients you might miss from your normal diet and contain high amounts of key vitamins and minerals.
- Product lines such as Nutrilite are good for specialized supplements if you want to target a certain area of your health; plus,Amway ensures quality control for Nutrilite organic farms, both in the U.S. and abroad.
- Some multivitamins contain CoQ10 but most do not. Make sure to check the label before buying.
- Creatine is cheap and available at every health store. Don’t overpay for “premium brands.” When it comes to creatine monohydrate, it’s all the same.
- Beet juice supplements are the best source for nitrates. They’re typically served in a “shot” like a Five Hour Energy and should be taken daily, up to two hours before a workout.