by Laurel Sterling, MA, RD, CDN
Maintaining an active lifestyle plays a key role in optimizing our health and outlook on life. Activity keeps our joints lubricated, muscles strengthened, and tendons and ligaments flexible. Athletes of all types and levels of ability want to be able to maximize their workouts, enhance performance, and reduce recovery time as much as possible. Beyond balanced nutrition, many supplements offer support before, during, and after a workout. Many nutrients are used up through exercise and must be replenished, while others assist with joint support, muscle health, energy production, and muscle recovery.
START WITH CORE NUTRIENTS
No matter where you are in your workout routine or skill level, a few basic supplements support overall health: a multivitamin, vitamin D3, and omega-3s. A quality multivitamin can restore important vitamins and minerals after the body is subjected to stress, such as from a tough workout. Ample B vitamins, which are water soluble and lost through sweat, are necessary for energy repletion. Antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E combat the free radicals produced during a workout. Calcium, magnesium, and potassium support nerves and muscles.
Vitamin D is needed by virtually everyone, and when we're using our heart and skeletal muscles more, we need extra support. Vitamin D helps regulate calcium and phosphorus metabolism. It supports the heart, other muscles, and bones. Omega-3 essential fatty acids promote heart, brain, and joint health.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are a relatively new kid on the block that form a great tag team with omega-3s. They're an important fat for anyone with increased energy needs. The body uses MCTs differently than other fats - they're an instant energy source. This is important for athletes, as it increases energy levels and endurance, boosting overall performance.
ADD AMINO ACIDS
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, the structural component of body tissues such as muscles, collagen, enzymes, and more. L-arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide, which assists in blood vessel dilation, circulation, and proper blood flow. This is great before a workout to help deliver nutrients to the muscles. L-taurine is an amino acid that supports healthy tissue and muscle development, and is also an excellent preworkout supplement.
L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. It's beneficial before and after a workout for building and repairing muscle tissue. With extreme exercise, the body depletes levels of glutamine quicker than they can be replaced. Acetyl-L-carnitine is also useful before and after a workout. It assists fatty acids into the mitochondria for energy production and can reduce recovery time after intense workouts.
L-lysine plays an important role in building and maintaining healthy muscle tissue. It's quite unique because when combined with other vitamins and minerals, it forms other aminos. For example, when lysine is combined with vitamin C, the body converts lysine to carnitine.
Whether you're a weekend warrior or intense athlete, make sure you get the support you need for optimal health and increased activity levels. A few basic supplements along with targeted amino acids will improve energy, boost performance, and help you recover quicker so you can maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
The Daily Dose blog features health and wellness articles from Senior Nutritionist & Educator Jolie Root, LPN,LNC; Nutritionist & Educator Laurel Sterling, MA, RDN, CDN; and Featured Guest Blogger Karen Roth, MSNC. Other guest bloggers will also join us.
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