When it comes to exercising, especially running, there are some important nutrients to be aware of. Supplements can be an amazing addition to a great diet but knowing which ones to take can be tricky and the help of a nutritional therapist will go a long way towards improving your performance.
“Magnesium is involved in maintaining normal muscle contraction and relaxation,” advises Rosie Weston, a nutritional therapist and College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM) graduate. “In animal studies, supplementation was shown to reduce build-up of lactate in the blood and delay muscle fatigue.”
Magnesium facilitates energy metabolism and can help to dilate blood vessels, so oxygen and nutrients can circulate faster around the body, especially where they’re most needed during exercise and recovery. “Since large amounts of magnesium are lost when sweating, remember to replace them post workout,” advises Rosie.
Prebiotics and probiotics can influence the gut microbiome, something really important in assisting with the digestion and absorption of food. While prebiotics (non-digestible fibre) promote activity and growth of beneficial gut flora, probiotics (like fermented foods) support and replenish the beneficial gut flora diversity. “In particular,” says Rosie, “carbohydrates are turned into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs); these feed liver cells which are vital in the creation of glucose (used by muscle cells during exercise). Studies have observed that runners eating probiotic yogurt show fewer respiratory symptoms.”
Antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E as well as other substances such as anthocyanins (found in red, blue and purple fruit and veg) are crucial for post-exercise recovery; they neutralise free radicals and support the regeneration of damaged tissues. “Vitamin C is required for connective tissue replacement,” says Rosie. “Vitamin E helps reduce inflammation and improves blood flow and Vitamin A supports the maintenance of myelin sheath (the layer of cells which protects nerves) and aids in nerve transmission. A supplement containing a variety of antioxidants may speed recovery; however, high doses of single antioxidants may impair ability in endurance athletes.”
L-carnitine supplementation has been shown in many studies to enhance exercise capacity as well as endurance. The body uses it to turn fatty acids into energy and transport them into cells. “L-carnitine may also help with recovery after exercise, specifically alleviating muscle pain and tenderness,” adds Rosie.
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