Whether you are an avid exerciser, or even a weekend warrior, a key part to achieving fitness goals and overall health is ensuring that nutritional demands of a healthy, active lifestyle are being met. A diet rich in nutrient dense foods is key to supporting energy and nutrient requirements. However, supplementation is also important to fill in the gaps and help support a healthy, active lifestyle!
With regards to the nutrient requirements of individuals who lead a highly active, demanding lifestyle, there are various factors to consider. If an active individual or athlete is restricting energy intake, following a strict weight loss program, eliminating foods or food groups from their diet, and/or has a low intake of key micronutrients, he/she may be at great risk for having poor micronutrient status or a nutritionally inadequate diet.1,2 As a result, exercise performance may be affected. Consuming a healthy diet is a vital component for good health and for sustaining a rigorous exercise routine. Discuss a dietary supplement regimen with your healthcare professional or Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist to help meet nutrient requirements and support optimal exercise performance.
To start, here are some considerations to help fuel an active lifestyle:
A daily multivitamin: to assist with filling in the nutrient gaps and to help meet basic nutritional requirements of active individuals. A multivitamin based on age and gender is recommended.
B complex supplement: to support cellular energy production. B vitamins help convert food into energy, as well as help support normal nervous system function.† To date, there has not been much research to determine if exercise increases the need for B vitamins. More study is needed on B vitamins and exercise with specific parameters in various exercise or sports. Active adults or athletes with higher energy intakes from a healthy diet including a variety of foods may also consider adding a B complex supplement or a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement to their health regimen.3,4
Antioxidants: to help neutralize free radicals in the body.† Antioxidants fight free radicals to protect healthy cells from damage.†5,6 Exercise can increase oxygen consumption by 10- to 15-fold, causing “oxidative stress” on the muscles and cells--particularly over extended periods of exercise.7 Antioxidants are beneficial to protect the body and they often work together to help neutralize free radicals.† For example, vitamins C and E make a great antioxidant duo, as does vitamin C and alpha lipoic acid, to name a few.
Calcium and Vitamin D: for supporting bone health with an active lifestyle. Calcium is an essential mineral for helping to build and support strong bones while vitamin D is required for the proper absorption of calcium.† Calcium also has other key roles for athletes and ‘weekend warriors’, which include assisting with nerve conduction and muscle contraction.† Supplementation with calcium and vitamin D may be necessary if dietary intake of these nutrients are low, especially in females.8,9
A healthy, active lifestyle does require some special care, and good nutrition is key. Take heed and consume a healthy diet rich in whole foods, especially complex carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Lean protein and healthy fats are great complements to a sports-friendly diet. It is also important to consider the appropriate dietary supplements to fill any nutrient gaps, support good energy, and help your body recover and refuel for each high energy day!
1. Driskell J. Summary: Vitamins and trace elements in sports nutrition. In: Driskell J, Wolinsky I, editors. Sports Nutrition. Vitamins and Trace Elements. New York (NY): CRC/Taylor & Francis; 2006. p. 323-31.
2. Volpe S. Vitamins, minerals and exercise. In: Dunford M, editor. Sports Nutrition: A Practice Manual for Professionals. Chicago (IL): American Dietetic Association; 2006. p. 61-3.
3. Woolf K, Manore MM. B-vitamins and exercise: does exercise alter requirements? Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006;16:453-84.
4. Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington (DC): National Academies Press; 2000.
5. Gleeson M, Nieman DC, Pedersen BK. Exercise, nutrition and immune function. J Sports Sci. 2004;22:115-25.
6. Powers SK, DeRuisseau KC, Quindry J, Hamilton KL. Dietary antioxidants and exercise. J Sports Sci. 2004;22:81-94.
7. Watson TA, MacDonald-Wicks LK, Garg ML. Oxidative stress and antioxidants in athletes undertaking regular exercise training. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2005;15:131-46.
8. Nickols-Richardson SM, Beiseigel JM, Gwazdauskas FC. Eating restraint is negatively associated with biomarkers of bone turnover but not measurements of bone mineral density in young women. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;106:1095-101.
9. Nattiv A, Loucks AB, Manore MM, Sanborn CF, Sundgot-Borgen J, Warren MP. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. The female athlete triad. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39:1867-82.
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