What are the best supplements that athletes can safely use to improve their performance and maximize their training results? Although a variety of supplements claim to help athletes achieve these goals, I recommend sticking to the basics by taking a multivitamin.
Experts agree that you should strive to satisfy your nutrient and mineral needs with a balanced diet. However, many studies have shown that we often fail to meet these needs through diet alone. Multivitamins ensure that nutrient levels are always topped off, no matter what your nutritional intake happens to be on a particular day.
This is particularly important for the high performance athlete. Let's say you are deficient in vitamin B. This particular vitamin helps convert nutrients into energy and aids in muscle recovery. If you fail to meet your vitamin B needs with your diet, your performance will suffer and you may not maximize your training gains. Taking a multivitamin each day will ensure against this occurring.
Multivitamins also contain antioxidants, which help prevent damage to cells from stress or from environmental factors that can negatively affect performance and overall health. In addition, they help improve recovery time, energy production, immune system function, brain function, heart health and other bodily functions.
Choosing a Multivitamin
When choosing a multivitamin, or any supplement, make sure you research the product so you know it's a pure substance that will deliver the promised results. The last thing you want is to waste your money on a supplement that could harm you. (Learn more about choosing a supplement.)
A good place to start your research is the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements, by Lyle MacWilliam, a book that evaluates more than 1,500 different products. It can help you make an educated, science-based decision about any supplement you are considering taking.
Regardless of the brand you choose, be sure that your supplement contains these essential vitamins and minerals:
- B vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, B12 and folate (to improve muscle recovery)
- Vitamin E (to support healthy heart function)
- Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K, silicon and vitamin C (to promote strong bones and healthy joints)
- Lutein, zinc, beta carotene and bilberry (to maintain healthy vision)
Beau Basinger is the founder and organizer of Surf and Turf Fitness, a group of individuals who enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Join them at meetup.com/Surf-And-Turf-Fitness. He is also an independent associate at USANA Health Sciences, a Utah-based producer of nutritional and skin-care products. Basinger’s clients include U.S. military drill instructors, personal trainers, gym owners, chiropractors, CrossFit trainers, MMA fighters, boxers, and professional and Olympic athletes.