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Dietary Supplements for Exercise and Athletic Performance

Dietary supplements to enhance exercise and athletic performance are available in a variety of forms. They may be found in the form of pills, powders, or liquids. These products contain various ingredients in different combinations. Some common ingredients include protein, arginine, creatine, glutamine, and ribose.

These dietary supplements usually aim to aid in the process of building good health and physique for better performance and do not serve as a replacement to whole meals and a well-balanced diet. 

Some athletes perform in certain extreme conditions such as high altitudes or temperatures. High-temperature results in the rapid loss of electrolytes through fluid and high altitudes lead to lower haemoglobin-oxygen binding. These situations, among others, require the usage of dietary supplements. These supplements could provide carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, iron, and protein, among other nutrients. 

Despite the proper intake of nutritious meals and such dietary supplements, the result varies widely depending upon each individual’s specific metabolism, the nature, duration, and intensity of the training they undertake and environmental factors. 

Some surveys revealed the amount of dietary supplements taken up by bodybuilders and by athletes who want to perform better. Evidence suggested that elite athletes (e.g., professional athletes and those who compete on a national or international level) use dietary supplements more often than their non-elite counterparts.

Some surveys conducted internationally showed that around 75% of adult elite track and field athletes that participate in championships held globally took at least one dietary supplement containing aforementioned ingredients. The usage of supplements was seen to be in increased amounts with an increase in age as well as among participants that were women. 

The supplements used by male and female athletes are similar, except that a larger proportion of women use iron and a larger proportion of men take vitamin E, protein, and creatine

Here are some ingredients commonly found in supplements and their uses.

INGREDIENTUSE
AntioxidantsMinimizes free radical damage to skeletal muscle
CaffeineReduces perceived pain and exertion
IronIncreases oxygen uptake, reduces heart rate and decreases lactate concentrations during exercise
ProteinBuilds, maintains and repairs muscle
Soda BicarbonateEnhances disposal of hydrogen ions generated from intense muscle activity, thereby reducing metabolic acidosis and resulting fatigue

Similar to all kinds of supplements, those which enhance performance have the potential to create certain side effects. Some ingredients in these supplements may react with those present in over the counter or prescription medicines. 

For example, ginseng reduces the blood-thinning effects of warfarin. Cimetidine can cause a decrease in the speed of removal of caffeine from the body, thus resulting in its accumulation.

If you take dietary supplements and medications on a regular basis, make sure to consult with your healthcare provider.

The Food and Drug Administration marks some substances in certain supplements as inappropriate, unlabeled, or unlawful. They might be stimulants, steroids, hormone-like ingredients, controlled substances, prescription medications, or unapproved drugs. Using these tainted products can cause health problems and disqualify athletes from competitions.

If you are a competitive or recreational athlete, you will perform at your best and recover most quickly when you eat a nutritionally adequate and supplemented diet, drink enough fluids, are physically fit, and are properly trained. 

Dry fruits are a great source of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber and Bhookha Haathi’s proprietary range of dry fruit and nut-based health booster powders are a great alternative to unnatural protein powders commonly available in the market. Enriched with Vitamins, Minerals, Electrolytes, Anti-Oxidants & Phyto-Nutrients to boost energy, Bhookha Haathi’s Natural Dry Fruit Health Booster is ideal for sports, gym & fitness enthusiasts. 

Written by: Jahnabee Adhikari
Jahnabee is a part-time blogger, full-time dog lover. She believes that writing actually possesses the potential to change the world. She can be often found fantasizing about poetry or buried nose-deep in a Sudha Murthy novel.

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Health & Dietary Supplements – Are They Good or Bad?

Health & dietary supplements are products intended to supplement the diet. It is an umbrella term that includes everything from Vitamins and minerals to botanicals and biosimilar products. They are not medicines and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate or cure diseases. The FDA is the federal agency that oversees both supplements and medicines, but the FDA regulations for dietary supplements are different from those for prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

Medicines must be approved by the FDA before they can be sold or marketed. Supplements do not require this approval. Supplement companies are responsible for having evidence that their products are safe, and the label claims are truthful and not misleading.

Health supplements: A significant role in high-risk groups

Supplements can play an important role for some high-risk groups. For instance, adults diagnosed with osteoporosis may require extra Vitamin D and calcium beyond what they get from their regular diet. Supplements also can help people with Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, conditions that make it difficult to absorb certain nutrients. People with Vitamin B12 deficiency almost always need a supplement. Supplements prescribed by a doctor are helpful for people with certain medical conditions. Otherwise, it’s best to get your Vitamins and minerals from food and not a pill or any other chemical based supplement. A healthy body only absorbs the required amount of nutrients from natural food sources and rest is excreted, therefore, there is no risk of toxicity unless the food is contaminated.

Possible health risks of Vitamin supplements:

  • High doses of beta carotene have been linked to a greater risk of lung cancer in smokers.
  • Extra calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin C may increase the risk of kidney stones.
  • High doses of Vitamin E may lead to stroke caused by bleeding in the brain.
  • Vitamin K can interfere with the anti-clotting effects of blood thinners.
  • Taking high amounts of Vitamin B6 for a year or longer has been associated with nerve damage that can impair body movements and the symptoms often go away after the supplements are stopped.
  • High doses of any health supplement in pill/chemical form can also cause toxicity in the body and can lead to various side effects. They can also interfere with many other health conditions already present in the body and make them even worse. For example high doses of Vitamin A can lead to even lower bone density in osteoporosis patients.

Which Vitamin supplements are worth taking?

Vitamin D: We cannot get our daily requirement of Vitamin D from plant or food sources as they don’t contain enough amount for optimum health. There are only two ways to get the required amount: 1) From the Sun 2) from Supplements. If we get 15-30 minutes daily exposure to sun, then we may not need it from any other supplement. Vitamin D is essential for Calcium absorption in our body and deficiency can lead to weaker bones or a condition called osteoporosis.

Vitamin B12: The only other Vitamin that is not produced from plant sources is Vitamin B 12. In fact, it is not made by animal sources either. Vitamin B12 is made by microbes or bacteria that blanket the earth and these bacteria also grow in the guts of some of the animals people eat. Those eating plant-based diet, don’t get enough B 12 to fulfil their daily requirements, therefore, need to be supplemented with B12.  Vitamin B 12 deficiency can lead to cognitive decline or depression.

How good or bad are protein powders?

Protein powders are dietary supplements in powdered forms of protein that come from plants like soybeans, peas, rice, potatoes, hemp, eggs or milk (casein or whey protein). These powders may include other ingredients such as added sugars, artificial flavouring, thickeners, Vitamins and minerals.

We may think adding protein powder to a glass of milk or a smoothie is a simple way to boost our health, building & maintaining muscle, bone strength, and numerous body functions; but be aware of the health risks involved.

Milk based protein powders may cause digestive distress and gastrointestinal discomfort in people with dairy allergies. They may be high in added sugars and calories and wind up turning a glass of milk into a drink with more than 1,200 calories resulting in weight gain and an unhealthy spike in blood sugar.

According to a report released by a non-profit group called the Clean Label Project, about toxins in protein powders, researchers screened 134 products for 130 types of toxins and found that many protein powders contained heavy metals like lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury, bisphenol-A (BPA), pesticides or other contaminants with links to cancer and other health conditions. One protein powder contained 25 times the allowed limit of BPA which is quite alarming. The manufacturing processes and the presence of toxins in soil were found to be major causes of contamination.

How does Bhookha Haathi fit in?

Dry fruits are a great source of proteins, Vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber and our popular range of proprietary dry fruit and nut-based health boosters are a great alternative to unnatural protein, Vitamin and other supplements commonly available in the market. So, if you are looking to supplement your diet, you can go for Bhookha Haathi’s 100% Natural Dry-Fruit Health Booster- Starter Pack which is enriched with Vitamins, Minerals, Electrolytes and Phyto-Nutrients to boost energy. Alternatively, you can opt for a subscription-based personalised nutraceutical plan that is crafted specially for you to fulfil all your individual nutrition needs.