7 Essential vitamins to support your fitness goals
These are the vitamins you should be taking to complement your active lifestyle.
Vitamins and minerals are essential to our overall health. I may not have seen it that way growing up (I reluctantly took the supplements my mum laid out every morning on the kitchen table for me), but in the last couple of months I’ve started to see just what my mum had been harping on about. If you’re strict about maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, you can get your key nutrients from food – but of course it doesn’t hurt to get a boost from supplements.
Getting your recommended daily intake of vitamins is key if you’re living an active lifestyle. Regular exercise means your body has a greater need for vitamins and minerals to repair muscle tissue. It can also reduce the absorption of vitamins and minerals mostly through sweat so it’s important to up your intake so your body can perform at its peak. I asked Amy Jordan, nutritionist from BioCeuticals, to give me the low down on the essential vitamins and minerals you need to support your health and fitness goals.
Why? Having good quality probiotics daily helps strengthen the gastrointestinal tract and keep it healthy and strong. Probiotics boost ‘good’ bacteria in the gut while keeping the ‘bad’ bacteria in check. Good gut health has many benefits including strengthened immunity and efficient digestion and can help support healthy mood.
Nutritionist Tip: Look for a probiotic supplement that provides a high number of colony forming units (CFU). 45 billion is a good maintenance dose. Probiotics can also be found in foods like Greek yoghurt, sauerkraut and fermented foods like miso.
2. Vitamin D3
Why? Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a greater risk of osteoporosis for women later in life as it plays an important role in bone density support. It also supports your immune system, brain health and muscle strength. Our bodies can make vitamin D using sunlight, but obviously that comes with the risk of sunburn.
Nutritionist Tip: Vitamin D3 supplementation can be one of the safest and easiest ways to bump up your levels – 1000 IU per day is a good dose.
Why? Magnesium is a essential mineral known to be depleted as a result of exercise. Fit women are faced with higher demands for magnesium because of their active lifestyle as well as accelerated loss of magnesium (for the same reason). Magnesium may also be beneficial in times of high stress and reduce the systems of PMS.
Nutritionist Tip: Increase your magnesium intake by eating foods such as raw nuts and seeds, unprocessed whole grains (brown rice), quinoa, spinach, legumes and bananas. Magnesium supplements can quickly restore magnesium levels to minimise systems of deficiency like muscle tiredness, cramps and fatigue, enhance athletic performance and recovery.
Why? Zinc is an important mineral that is found in every single cell of the body. It is crucial for a healthy immune function and at the right dosage, can also help treat the common cold. Zinc plays a vital role in protein and collagen synthesis and hormonal regulation.
Nutritionist Tip: You can dose up on zinc-rich foods like oysters, shellfish, beef, lamb and pumpkin seeds or opt for a good quality supplement.
5. Essential Fatty Acids
Why? Good fats are essential for your brain health (to support your mood and memory), skin (to prevent dryness), heart, hormone levels and joints. These beneficial fats are known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) which include omega-3 and omega-6. Omega-3 fatty acids can help with lowering blood pressure, weight loss, improve your immune system and improve your skin & hair condition to name a few.
Nutritionist Tip: Maintain your levels of good fats by eating a diet rich in nutritious foods including fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, eggs and coconut oil. As the human body can’t manufacture enough omega-3 fatty acids, you have to ensure you’re getting them through food or fish oil supplements.
Why? One of the main roles of iron is to help our red blood cells transport oxygen to all parts of the body. More than one million Australians are iron deficient or anaemic. Signs of iron deficiency include fatigue, tiredness, pale complexion, lack of concentration, loss of appetite and thinning hair.
Nutritionist Tip: Speak to your healthcare practitioner about an iron supplement if you think you might be deficient – look for one with iron in the form of amino acids chelate to reduce gastrointestinal discomfort. Red meat is a well-known source of iron while other iron-containing foods include tofu, lentils, kidney beans, some nuts (eg. almonds and cashews) and spinach.
Why? Ubiquinol, the active form of CoQ10, is a powerful antioxidant that is essential for producing the body’s energy, as well as supporting the health of major organs, including the heart. Antioxidants are vital for not only powering our cells, but mopping up ‘free radicals’ which wreak havoc on our bodies by causing inflammation and damage to DNA.
Nutritionist Tip: This is a big one for women once they hit 30. Ubiquinol is made by the body, however its ability to be produced declines with age, stress and physical exertion, so a good quality supplement is recommended.
Disclaimer: Always consult your healthcare practitioner to find out which supplement is right for you. Always read the label and use only as directed.