The market for nutritional supplements is huge today. For every condition, every age, and every way of life, it seems there is a supplement company that claims to have a pill to help people perform better. The variety of supplements can be overwhelming, and the cost can be prohibitive. So which supplements should an athlete take for good health and peak performance? This page will tell you all about the five basic supplements that are helpful for optimum health, readily available, and relatively inexpensive.
Creatine for Muscle Power
Creatine is a natural substance that is integral to skeletal muscle. Creatine is used on a cellular level to help produce energy to power muscle tissue. Creatine supplementation is most effective in athletes (as opposed to sedentary individuals), to help in muscle recovery and energy production during exertion. Creatine supplements are available in powder form, to be mixed with liquid, and in capsule form. The usual dose is 5 grams once per day. Some studies recommend a higher initial dose for the first week (a so-called “loading dose”), but this is not a universally accepted idea.
CoEnzyme Q10 for Optimum Exercise Performance
CoEnzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone or simply CoQ10, is a compound found throughout the entire body (hence the name ubiquinone, for this ubiquitous compound). This compound facilitates the body’s production of energy, particularly in heart muscle. Preliminary studies show that CoQ10 can increase exercise tolerance in individuals with some forms of cardiac disease. Other evidence suggests that CoQ10 can improve exercise performance in healthy individuals. Dose suggestions range from 100 to 400 mg per day.
L-Carnitine for a Boost in Energy Production and Fat Burning
L-carnitine is an amino acid found primarily in animal sources of protein. While there is no such thing as a “deficiency” of L-carnitine, bodybuilders believe that additional supplementation with L-carnitine boosts muscle performance by aiding the cells in utilizing fat molecules for energy production. This process has the added effect of boosting fat loss in those attempting to lose weight. While these claims are unproven, it has been shown in some studies to improve cardiac function in individuals with some types of cardiac and/or coronary disease. The suggested dose is 500 mg per day.
Magnesium for Cellular Regulation and Energy Production
Magnesium is an essential mineral for the human body. It is the second most abundant ion in human cells after potassium. Magnesium interacts with calcium in the cells to aid in the production of the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the basic energy molecule in living things. Some studies show that many individuals are magnesium deficient, making magnesium supplementation a good idea for all, both athletes and non-athletes alike. Recommended daily dose is 200 mg to 400 mg daily. Magnesium supplements should be taken at a different time of the day than calcium supplements, as these minerals compete with each other in the intestines to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids for a Healthy Heart
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fat molecules that help the body function in a variety of ways. There is strong scientific evidence that omega 3 fatty acids can improve cardiovascular health. They are also effective in fighting inflammation throughout the body, which is helpful for recovery from strenuous workouts. Some research shows that this supplement may help prevent dementia, age-related vision problems, and some types of cancer. The recommended dose is 1000 mg (1 gram) per day.