I get asked a lot about what supplements to take and why. Now I need to say first that if you have a genuine concern about a deficiency please get it checked out with your doctor who can arrange blood tests. There is so much information out there and different studies that it can be hard to make a decision on if you should supplement or can you get all you need from your diet. There is also a lot of conflicting information and studies are ongoing adapting and changing .
I try to eat a varied balanced diet with lots of vegetables, some fruit, plenty of protein and enough carbs to support my training. Through this I meet most of my nutritional needs. However I take several supplements that support general health and my training. Ill outline each and explain the reasons I take it and this may help you on the road to deciding what might work for you in the sea of supplements out there!
1.Fish oils Omega 3
Fish oils help to reduce inflammation and have been shown to help with numerous physical and mental conditions. Fish oils contain essential fatty acids or EHA, they are essential as our body cannot produce them itself. Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DPA) are thought to provide a wide range of health benefits, including a lower risk of coronary heart disease and improvement in cholesterol. There have also been promising results from studies looking at omega-3 for cancer, depression, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also thought that there is body composition and recovery benefits to supplementing with Omega 3. Personally the biggest difference I noticed when I initially started to take a fish oil supplement was mental clarity. That alone sold me!
ZMA is a natural mineral supplement made up of zinc, magnesium asperate, and vitamin B6 . Zinc supports your immune system and muscles. Magnesium plays a role in metabolism and muscle health and helps manage sleep which is hugely important in recovery. B6 may boost energy. I have previously had a Vitamin B deficiency and supplementing with it did increase my energy levels and mood.
ZMA makers claim that increasing these three nutrients in your system can build muscle strength and stamina, speed muscle recovery, and improve the quality of your sleep. Initially when I took ZMA or if I take a break from it and go back I get lucid dreams. This seems to be a common occurrence, just to give you a heads up. It does subside once you are settled into taking them and they are not bad dreams just very vivid and at times bizarre (that could be just me though)
What it says on the tin:
Only Supplement with All 4 Forms of Glucosamine & Chondrotitin
- Improves Recovery Time Post-Workout
- Cartilage & Bone
- Connective Tissue & Soft Tissue
- Muscle Collagen
- HA Development
This is a personal choice that may not be necessary for everyone but for joint health I really don’t think you can find a better supplement on the market. I definitely feel a marked improvement in my recovery time and general achiness (technical term). Also my knees were prone to a bit of creaking and they don’t seem to be anymore which is the first time in years that I’ve noticed this!
Adequate vitamin D intake is important for the regulation of calcium and phosphorus absorption, maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. There is also significant research to Vitamin D aiding fat loss and performance. As our best source of Vitamin D is the sun and we live in Ireland, this one was an easy decision for me; we just don’t get adequate sunshine here so I believe supplementation is a good idea. I do believe it lifts my mood and makes me feel brighter and more alert.
Whey protein is considered a complete protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids and is low in lactose Whey protein is easy to digest and fast absorbing making it a perfect option post training when you may not want to eat immediately. It gets that all important post training protein into you quickly which helps with muscle repair and recovery. I find that it helps me hit my correct protein levels a lot easier plus it’s great for making protein pancakes or adding protein to my morning oats making it a more balanced meal nutritionally.
I use Whey protein isolate – WPIs are further processed to remove all the fat and lactose. WPI is usually at least 90% protein.
Whey protein can aid building lean muscle mass as part of a healthy eating plan.
Creatine is produced naturally in the body to aid energy production. By increasing muscular stores of creatine it has been shown to be able to increase work output in training allowing you to train harder and longer. Creatine has been demonized in the past very wrongly as it is a natural supplement that used correctly can aid your training. I have felt the benefits since I started taking it and take 3-5 grams in my protein shake post training.
Michelle wrote an excellent review on creatine previously that goes into more details read it here.
BONUS SUGGESTIONS (Supplements I’m considering! )
I had a great chat with the fantastic Kortney Fitness at the weekend discussing supplements and nutrition. She is a font of knowledge so I love picking her brain on all things nutrition! We discussed digestive enzymes and probiotics. They are very much the buzz on the supplement street at the moment and I think I may introduce them into my daily routine and try them for myself !
Do you ever feel bloated or get constipated… or have diarrhoea? What about heartburn, irritable bowels or just a bad case of gas? (If you suffer badly from any of these symptoms talk to your doctor and explore options)
Well this is generally down to an unhealthy gut. Poor gut health can lead to a myriad of health issues so we do need to be aware of this and not just accept these feelings of discomfort as normal .
Taking a digestive enzyme can help greatly with these uncomfortable feelings. They are the key substances of the digestive process, working to break down our food for proper absorption. The four primary digestive enzymes are:
- Lipase enzymes that help digest and assimilate fats.
- Protease/Peptidase enzymes that break down proteins.
- Amylase enzymes that break down carbohydrates or starch.
- Cellulase enzymes that break down cellulose molecules into simple sugars.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that may be able to help prevent and treat some illnesses. Promoting a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system are their most widely studied benefits at this time. These are also commonly known as friendly, good, or healthy bacteria.
You can get probiotics as a supplement or naturally occurring in yogurt or fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi!
I hope this answers some of your questions and helps you making decisions on your supplements.