Supplements are just that — supplements, not replacements. Paired with a healthy diet, they can help keep the body strong and well by focusing on prevention and support. They can also help to address specific health needs related to your joints, heart, brain, digestion and more. Research indicates that optimal levels of some nutrients are tough to obtain from diet alone, thus… supplements!
Below are our top 10 supplements to enhance and support your workout and health goals.
1. Energy Supplements
Whatever your workout, energy supplements can fuel your sessions before, sustain your energy during and support repair and recovery after.
- Natural energy enhancers like green tea and yerba mate will support endurance and mental focus without the jitters or caffeine crash. Boosting your energy with natural ingredients will help increase endurance, aerobic and anaerobic capacity, and enhance mental focus before long and high-intensity workouts.
- B vitamins are necessary for the body to convert proteins and sugars into energy, and are necessary for peak performance and recovery.
2. Recovery Supplements
Helping your body recover quickly from a tough workout will decrease muscle soreness and help to get you ready for your next workout.
- Turmeric supports a healthy inflammatory response which supports recovery and pain relief.
- Ginseng and Rhodiola were traditionally used in herbal medicine to help enhance physical capacity, and reduce training-related fatigue.
3. Protein Powders
Protein provides amino acids, which are vital for lean muscle tissue growth and repair, as well as cellular metabolism.
- Protein powder is a great way to get additional support if you don’t get sufficient levels of protein from the foods you eat. Most are vegetarian and some varieties are dairy free or vegan.
4. Bone & Joint Supplements
Make sure you are supporting the bone and joint structure that keeps your body supported! Orthopedic injuries are a very common reason people can’t work out like they want to!
- Calcium provides critical support for healthy bones. Although it is never too late to nourish your bones, early intervention through adequate calcium intake, regular exercise, and a diet rich in fresh, unprocessed foods will help prevent bone loss in later years.
- Vitamin D plays a major role in bone development and appears to have a beneficial effect on many of the body’s systems. Most people cannot get needed levels of vitamins D from recommended diets.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin formulas address joint discomfort by supplementing and supporting components naturally found in healthy cartilage. Glucosamine is a building block of cartilage, while chondroitin sulfate is actually a constituent of cartilage.
- Zyflamendpromotes a healthy inflammation response that helps support joint health. Perfect for post-workout pain.
5. Wellness Supplements for Cold & Flu
Sickness is another common reason people have to skip their workouts. These types of supplements support healthy immune systems.
- Homeopathic flu remedies, when taken at the first sign of sickness, can provide temporary relief of symptoms including fever, chills and body aches.
- Warm liquids may provide similar soothing effects as steam.
Pro-tip: Experts say, washing your hands is “hands down” the number one prevention for cold and flu.
6. Healthy Fats
Healthy Fats are vital for numerous functions in the body, including a healthy cardiovascular system, brain, mood, joints and skin.
- Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are key players in the recovery process. Essential fatty acids found in fish oils may support a healthy inflammation response after exercise. This may help to reduce the post-exercise muscle soreness often felt for hours or days after strenuous or unaccustomed exercise.
- Plant-based omega-3s, derived from nuts and seeds, are great options for those who don’t consume fish or meat.
Electrolytes are minerals in your blood that are depleted during training. Great natural sources are coconut water, dried fruits like raisins or dates, and naturally enhanced electrolyte drinks.
8. Digestion Supplements
No one likes to work out on an upset stomach, but even more importantly, healthy digestion is key to overall health and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Probiotics play an important role in digestion, supporting the immune system and intestinal health.
- Fiber supports normal blood sugar levels, hunger, cholesterol levels and a healthy intestine.
Multivitamins contain beneficial nutrients that may be difficult to obtain from food sources alone. They act as nutritional “insurance.”
10. Superfoods Supplements
Superfoods are packed with essential nutrients and available in a variety of convenient forms, like powders, bars and capsules, which can help you get in your recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
- Greens and wheatgrass are loaded with antioxidants, fiber and minerals.
- Maca delivers glucosinolates, the healthy compounds in cruciferous vegetables.
Kathleen Wood, leads the Healthy Eating Program at Whole Foods Market, for the Mid-Atlantic region. She graduated from Dickinson College and then did a Master’s degree in Public Health at Boston University where she focused on nutrition and theories of health behavior change. She also completed a certificate in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University. For more wellness tips and seasonal recipes please follow her page here!