5 Supplements Every Endurance Athlete Should Consider Taking

Non-endurance athletes need a huge amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for everyday living. The number of processes the human body undertakes every second of every day is phenomenal. So, consider the sheer volume of training that you, as an endurance athlete, do. Each session puts additional stress and demand on you and increases the amount of nutrients your body requires to perform its regular functions as well as training and racing.

So where do you start? Go into any pharmacy or health store and you will be greeted by a plethora of vitamins, supplements, tablets, potions and lotions marketed to every ailment possible, the choice can be overwhelming. These are the top 5 supplements I would recommend in addition to a healthy and balanced diet to optimise your potential.Multivitamin

A good multivitamin is at the top of my hit list as a place to start, you can’t out-train a bad diet, that’s for sure, and there’s no substitute for quality nutritious food. However, the CSIRO have proven that our soil is deficient in 9 essential minerals (selenium, zinc, chromium, cobalt, magnesium, manganese molybdenum, vanadium and iodine). So if our soil is deficient in nutrients, how can we expect the food that grows within it to fully nourish us? Add in the extra physical demands of endurance athletes and there’s no question that a multivitamin is needed to fill in the glaring nutritional gaps.

Ubiquinol (activated form of Co-enzyme Q10)

Every cell in our body contains organelles called mitochondria that are like little furnaces responsible for energy production. Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a critical component of the electron transport chain and plays a vital role within mitochondrial respiration. Without going too much into Biology 101, CoQ10 levels have been shown to have a significant effects on the rate of cellular respiration, therefore decreased levels can lead to a lack of energy and decreased stamina.

I started taking Ubiquinol few months ago and I can honestly say that it changed my life. Having done a few Ironman before, I thought it was ‘normal’ to feel tired most of the days, assuming it was due to the increased training and workload. When I said this to the naturopath I work with, he was dismayed that I wasn’t taking it already. Within a week of taking 150mg of Ubiquinol daily I could feel the difference, my energy levels were higher than ever.

Don’t just take my word for it though, a double-blind placebo controlled study found that athletes supplementing CoQ10 measured all indexes of physical endurance and recovery as significantly improved. Another study showed Ubiquinol supplementation enhanced peak power production in trained athletes (elite German cyclists). Increased energy levels and enhanced power output… Don’t ask me why I take Ubiquinol every day, ask yourself why you don’t.

Magnesium

Although it’s a common household name and crucial for so many functions in the body, magnesium deficiency is one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in adults. Magnesium is required for heart rhythm, neurotransmitter function, calcium absorption, blood pressure regulation and supports stress, muscles and energy production. For athletes it can provide support for muscular aches, pains, cramps and spasms as well as assist in quality night’s sleep.

I would recommend taking 300-600mg per day of elemental magnesium depending on your training load and where you live (as magnesium is spent during perspiration). Be careful to check what form you are buying though, there are a few different salts of magnesium out there. Avoid “magnesium oxide” you will pay for it but won’t absorb it.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is probably one of the most understated yet valuable supplements. This water soluble vitamin is found in abundance in fresh fruit and vegetables, so if you eat well it’s likely you get the recommended daily intake for ‘regular human’ but we aren’t regular, are we? Therefore I would recommend any endurance athlete to take 1000mg every night for its antioxidant, healing and immune boosting properties.

Vitamin C is an essential cofactor in the synthesis of all connective and soft tissue, it has been proven to speed up minor wound healing. We know that training causes thousands of micro tears in our muscles and tissues, and when we go to sleep our body heals all these tears, making us stronger and faster. Think of a Vitamin C tablet before bed as your antioxidant superpower, speeding up this healing process whilst also protecting the integrity of your immune system and warding off infection, all whilst you sleep.

Iron

Our bodies can’t produce iron, therefore we must consume sufficient amounts either through our diet, or in the form of supplementation. Food rich in iron include red meat, poultry, seafood, legumes and green leafy vegetables. Adequate intake of iron is necessary for the production of red blood cells and the transportation of oxygen around the body. Iron is also involved in neurotransmission, the conversion of blood sugar to energy, and the production of enzymes, therefore it is crucial for athletes to have adequate iron stores for so many reasons.

Stores are depleted through bleeding, urination, defecation, sweating and a process called foot strike hemolysis, where red blood cells are damaged when the foot hits the ground, thus reducing your hemoglobin levels. The additive effects of these depletion causes can often result in low iron stores in athletes, especially females.

Before you go rushing out for an iron supplement to make you into an instant Ironman, start with making a conscience effort to evaluate and if necessary, increase the amount of iron in your diet. Then next time you’re at the doctor, I would recommended asking for a full blood test, especially if you are training for an Ironman or another endurance race involving heavy training load. Having a full picture of your health is important not just to optimise performance but also to ensure longevity in the sport and stay alive and well.

There’s a plethora of vitamins and supplements on the market that could be of potential benefit, but the spectrum of this article is limited, so these are merely the top 5 I would recommend for the general endurance athlete. For more personalised advice, speak to your friendly pharmacist, naturopath or coach about what they would recommend.

In the meantime, fill your plate with all the colours of the rainbow (preferably with fruit and vegetables not a packet of skittles), keep training and being awesome!

Anti-Aging: 4 yoga secrets that will help keep you young

There is a lot of talk nowadays about the anti-aging benefits of yoga, especially as our culture becomes more focused on health and wellness, and ways to look younger.

I personally have practiced yoga for the last decade and it’s become a huge part of my life, especially for anti-aging. I believe that this has helped me with anti-aging and I would have to say yoga is definitely one of the contributing factors in this. Yoga helps to moves energy around the body and make the body feel more alive and energized. It also helps to fight depression and stabilize emotions, increase oxygen intake through our breathing, and therefore, our mind is calmer. Cortisol and stress levels are also reduced when practicing yoga, which helps your body to maintain less body fat and improve blood circulation to all our body parts adding to that glowing skin factor, which contributes to anti-aging.

I believe in the saying ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it!’ It’s very true in the case of our flexibility, Yoga is great for improving our flexibility and for anti-aging. In an old famous concept in yoga philosophy, a person’s age is determined by the flexibility of their spine and not by the number of years. I think we would all see these examples in people. You can see a 60-year-old that does yoga and keeps active who looks great for their age, they can bend easily and when they walk it seems effortless with ease and grace. Then you can see a 40-year-old who doesn’t do any yoga or keep active and they are struggling to bend or do everyday movements without aches or pains. When they walk they are stiff and it seems like it’s an effort.

I have made a list of four key things I do in yoga that help with anti-aging and more. Read below to find out more.

Contributing factors to why yoga will help you with anti-aging

Balance – The ability to balance involves both our body and our brain, when we practice this we don’t lose our coordination and balance, it improves our agility, which is vital as we get older so we don’t have as many falls, therefore preventing any fractures or broken bones.

Flexibility – Yoga creates flexibility and helps to stop any aches, pains and stiffness within our bodies. For example, simple things like getting up out of a chair or bending to pick something up can be an easy experience and not a painful one. We create space in our bodies and especially in our spine, we lengthen our spines and create space between each vertebrae, by doing this we improve nerve conduction to all organs, so everything is working and flowing better.

Breathing – People underestimate how important the breath is, breath is life. Yoga increases lung capacity, it creates more oxygen to all of the cells which in turns creates more energy and life force in our bodies. We start to intake more air and become more aware of it, this can help us start to breathe properly which can help with digestion and lowering the blood pressure.

Body Awareness – Yoga helps us become more aware of our bodies, our postures improve, our body sensitivity levels are heightened and then we are able to feel the subtle energies moving around it.  We are then mindful to pay attention to anything that doesn’t feel right in the body and correct it before it goes too far.

In my own experiences through yoga over the 10 years I have been practicing it has helped me so much, my posture has improved immensely. When I was at school I was told I had scoliosis, now I always remember to bring my shoulder blades down and open my chest it makes such a big difference not only in the way I look but the way I feel. It also helps to reduce pain in the shoulders and neck.

Emotionally, I feel more balanced and I seem to handle what life throws at me a lot better than I use to as the breathing, chanting and meditation aspects of yoga have made me feel calmer and at peace with myself, letting go of some of the unhealthy habits I once had in my life. As I have become more aware of my body my diet has improved immensely, you realize you just want to treat your body with love and respect and not put garbage in it. You start to listen to your body more and know what is right for it. Personally I have found yoga a very healing practice and because of everyone’s past experiences, we all have something we need to heal in our own lives because we are not perfect and yoga is so great for doing that.

With yoga though there is no one-day policy benefit, you need to be patient and yes yoga brings patience too.  If you practice at least 3 times a week you will really start to see those anti-aging benefits that yoga delivers. Not only will you see it but other people will start to see it. Yoga really does help transform people’s lives for the better, as a teacher I get to see this on a regular basis, I see a wonderful change in people’s lives as they make yoga a part of their life. Yoga really isn’t just a practice it’s a way of life. It helps with anti-aging, stress, balance, and so much more.

Try it, once you do, you’ll never look back, especially with the anti-aging benefits.

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