The Short Scoop on Supplements – Part II

The Short Scoop on Supplements – Part II

In the last article, I covered the types of supplements available and listed some important questions you should ask yourself when making a decision on whether to start a supplement or how to choose supplements that are safe and cost-effective.  In this article, let us take a look at a few common supplements that many athletes inquire about or take on a regular basis without knowing their purpose. 1. Magnesium This is an important mineral and electrolyte for athletes. Magnesium has many roles, including bone metabolism, immune system health, muscle contraction, and carbohydrate and fat metabolism. It is not common to have magnesium levels tested as part of routine blood work unless we work with a functional medicine doctor or specifically request this lab to be drawn. However, it has been suggested that the majority of us are deficient in this micronutrient. Two common reasons for deficiency are that there is simply an inadequate intake of its food sources, and secondly, the soils in which the foods are grown are lacking in the mineral.  I do not recommend supplementing without first having a dietary assessment done by a dietitian who also considers your physical activity levels.  A dietitian will know the right dosage for you, the best absorbable forms, and can give you further guidance on nutrition to optimize your magnesium intake. Note that good food sources of magnesium include dark leafy greens, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, beans, and whole grains. 2. Vitamin D Commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin”, the process to synthesize vitamin D in the body is quite complex. Its roles in the body are...
The Short Scoop on Supplements – Part I

The Short Scoop on Supplements – Part I

Use of supplements is a huge topic to address, as you can probably guess from taking a glance at the aisles of your local vitamin shop, pharmacy or natural grocer store. Not to mention that the supplement business is over a $20 billion dollar industry in the U.S.! Are you taking a supplement?  My guess is that most of you reading this use some form of supplementation.  Are you aware of the different kinds of supplements? If not, let us briefly review the three main categories: dietary – These are designed to enhance general health and to prevent or treat nutrient deficiencies. Examples of these include:  fish oils, iron, calcium, multivitamins, and probiotics. sport – Your sports nutrition products fall into this category and include gels, chews, bloks, beans, electrolytes, and sports drinks. ergogenic – These supplements claim to provide a performance-enhancing benefit, a few of which may be supported by valid scientific studies while the majority of these supplements may be hype or tested quite minimally. Some of the more popular and well-researched ergogenic aids include caffeine, creatine, and beta-alanine. Now that we have established the types of supplements and you are able to identify what types you take, an important question to ask yourself for each one is “Why do I take this?”.  Particularly for dietary supplements, I find most athletes cannot answer this question confidently or we find the supplement may not do what it is purported to do. Additionally, many supplements are not necessary with a high quality daily nutrition plan which is customized to the athlete’s unique needs. Other important questions to ask regarding...