Tag Archives: vitamins

Supplements in Sport

Success in sport depends on many factors, but when everything else is equal, nutrition can make the difference between winning and losing.

A large majority of sports supplements have traditionally been used by elite athletes, body builders and sports enthusiasts, with a heavy emphasis being placed on protein powders and performance enhancers. Although useful, these supplements only scratch the surface of sports nutrition. In fact, by delving a little deeper into nutritional science, a number of seemingly non-sports orientated supplements, including fish oils and probiotics, can be found predominantly placed in the supplement protocol of any physically active individual.

It is all too common for people to consume less than sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals within the diet, which can lead to poor health, impaired recovery and under-performance. This is where supplements can play an important role.

Whatever level at which people participate in their chosen physical activity, it is now widely accepted that the addition of key nutritional supplements to any exercise regime can be beneficial to health. Much of today’s use of nutritional supplements is aimed at not only ensuring that any dietary deficiencies are corrected, but that recovery from training, competition or injury is accelerated, and that the immune system remains uncompromised so that individuals can continue to perform at the highest level.

Some nutrients have undoubted benefits and have been proven in clinical trials to improve performance and recovery. However, the ‘normal balanced diet’ may not provide these nutrients in sufficient quantities, and extra demand on the body through training and competing can deplete them even faster. Athletes and physically active individuals would therefore obtain the greatest benefit from taking high quality supplements, backed by scientific credibility. Incorporating these principles can often provide that extra edge, which is so important when the margins set between winning and losing are so small.

BioCare® has made innovative steps in sports supplementation by gaining Informed-Sport accreditation
BioCare® has made innovative steps in sports supplementation by gaining Informed-Sport accreditation

Informed-Sport

Purity is one of the most essential considerations when choosing supplements for sport. Informed-Sport accreditation allows athletes and those involved in sport to choose products that are rigorously tested, batch-by-batch, for contaminants and WADA banned substances to ensure that they are safe to use. Testing is carried out by HFL Sport Science, an internationally recognised and accredited laboratory, supported by UK Sport.

BioCare® has made innovative steps in sports supplementation by gaining Informed-Sport accreditation for products which truly support the foundations of health – One A Day Vitamins & Minerals, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Bio Acidophilus Forte and Vitamin C 1000. These supplements do not necessarily correlate with stereotypical sports supplementation, but this holistic and innovative approach represents the future of sports nutrition.

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Choosing the Best Supplements: Part One

Choosing the right kind of supplement is extremely important, and yet the choice available can create lots of confusion. I am frequently asked about how to select the most suitable type of supplement. Will the supplement be absorbed properly, and is a ‘natural’ form always better than a synthetic form? Are capsules better than tablets? Which brand is best? Some simple pointers can help you to choose the right supplement for you.

Is Natural better than Synthetic?

Many people prefer to take vitamins in their natural form as they believe that nutrients derived from plants and other natural materials are more effective. Although this is not always the case, there are certainly instances where this belief holds up. Vitamin E, for example, is almost 40% more potent in its natural form that in its synthetic form. The natural form of Vitamin E is called d-alpha-tocopherol and this natural form, usually derived from wheat germ or soya oil, is undoubtedly superior.

Likewise, the natural form of Vitamin D, cholecalciferol or D3, has a more sustained effect on Vitamin D levels in the body than its synthetic counterpart Vitamin D2.

Generally, however, the natural and synthetic forms of most vitamins and minerals tend to behave in similar ways. Synthetic forms of some nutrients, such as Vitamin C, can in fact work out cheaper and can be more concentrated.

Perhaps the most important consideration is that vitamin supplements derived from natural sources may well contain as yet unknown nutrients that help increase their effectiveness. Vitamin C, for example, is more effective when taken alongside bioflavonoids, and these nutrients are almost always found together in nature. Supplement manufacturers can utilise this natural Vitamin C ‘boost’ by combining a potent synthetic Vitamin C supplement with additional bioflavonoids. By replicating this natural combination manufacturers can improve the supplement’s potency.

Improving supplement absorption

Getting the best out of your supplements also means making sure that you are taking them correctly. There are a number of lifestyle and dietary factors that can affect supplement absorption. Supplements should always be taken separately from alcohol, especially if the supplements contain magnesium or B vitamins. Alcohol lowers levels of digestive enzymes from the pancreas, meaning that supplements may not be broken down and digested (1). Alcohol also damages the cells lining the stomach and intestines, impairing absorption (2).

Cal-mag
Calcium and magnesium are better absorbed alongside proteins

As smoking influences the absorption of minerals such as calcium, it is not recommended to smoke during meal times, especially if you are taking your supplements with a meal.

Stress is another lifestyle factor that can hinder supplement absorption. As stress can effectively shut down digestion, it would be wise to try to take your supplements after a leisurely meal rather than on the run during a busy day.

To ensure maximum absorption, most vitamin and mineral supplements are best taken immediately after a meal. Calcium and magnesium are better absorbed alongside proteins. Vitamins A, E and D are all fat-soluble, and so are best taken alongside a meal containing fats or oils.

Other important factors when choosing a nutritional supplement include bioavailability, the form of delivery (tablet or capsule) and the manufacturing standards of the supplement company.

References

(1) Korsten, M.A. Alcoholism and pancreatitis: Does nutrition play a role? Alcohol Health & Research World 13(3):232-237, 1989. 

(2) Feinman, L. Absorption and utilization of nutrients in alcoholism. Alcohol Health & Research World 13(3):207-210, 1989. 

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Healthy skin spotlight – Our top 5 supplements for skin health

This blog post looks at some of the key nutritional supplements for supporting and maintaining healthy skin.  Follow our top five tips and your skin will be looking healthy and radiant all through natural choices and healthy diet without the need for beauty products that contain harmful chemicals.

Natural skin care
Support your skin care through nutrition and a healthy diet (1)

1. Fish Oils

Fish oils are essential fatty acids which means that they are not made by the body and have to be consumed (either eaten or supplemented) in order to provide the body with their fantastic benefits.  Fatty acids have been recognised for their ability to improve the skin through their anti-inflammatory activity which may also reduce the development of eczema psoriasis, acne and rashes.  They can also help to firm the skin and potentially reduce lines and wrinkles.  Read more about the power of fish oils for skin health in previous blog posts here.  Overall a top skin care provider!

2. Antioxidants:

Oxidative damage from free radicals (unstable molecules) is the primary cause of premature skin aging as they can interfere with DNA and breakdown collagen which contributes to the formation of those dreaded wrinkles.  Antioxidants have been found to help prevent this damage and protect the body from their harmful effects.  Antioxidants, such as alpha tocopherol, beta carotene, lycopene, and lutein, have also been identified to protect against UV damage (photoaging) which causes the most harm to the skin (3).

3. Multivitamin

Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and wholegrains helps to provide the body with vitamins, minerals, fibre and other essential components to help the body to function optimally and keep the skin in its best condition.  Adding a multivitamin (which are natural nutrients that are essentially consumed as the body can not produce them itself) to this regime can offer a great boost to your body’s balance of health and support the health and appearance of the largest organ in your body, your skin.  Again multivitamins that include the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E are great skin supporters, and also B3, D and K have also been identified as protecting against the biggest skin ager, photoaging (4).

Higher Nature Aeterna Gold
Having a healthy diet with lots of vitamins and antioxidants such as vitamin C, can help to encourage collagen production

4. Collagen

As we age, our collagen stores steadily decrease which reduces the elasticity in our skin and causes lines and wrinkles, so supplementing collagen may help to limit these effects.  Also having a healthy diet with lots of vitamins and antioxidants such as vitamin C, can help to encourage collagen production and its use within the body, which may assist in keeping the skin bright and youthful.

5. Probiotics

Probiotics are non digestible foods that can promote health by stimulating the activity of beneficial bacteria in the gut.  They have been found to assist with the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract which then allows the nutrients to fully benefit the skin.  Additionally, probiotics have also been recognised for stimulating the microflora of the skin and protecting the skin through the immune system (6).  Therefore these friendly bacteria are perfect little protectors of youthful skin so make sure you include them in your daily routine.

A top tip for supplementing would be to include probiotics with your supplements to ensure that your digestive system is optimal and you are absorbing the necessary nutrients from the supplements you are taking.

P.S. You may also wish to consider using light therapy as an alternative to help keep skin beautiful, as they have been found to kill the bacteria that causes acne and also to reduce the inflammation in the skin caused by acne.  They do this through the combination of wavelengths which also assist facial lesions, scars and many other conditions.  They have also shown to be very effective at brightening the skin tone (7,8).  Therefore they may be worth considering if you are suffering from a skin complaint.

Written by Lauren Foster

References

(1) Image courtesy of  photostock.

(2)De Spirit s et al. (2009) Intervention with flaxseed and borage oil supplements modulates skin condition in women. British Journal of Nutrition, 101:440-445.

(3) Evans, J.A. & Johnson, E.J. (2010) The Role of Phytonutrients in Skin Health. Nutrients, 2, 903-928.

(4) Zussman, J., Ahdout, J. and Kim, J. (2010) Vitamins and photoaging: Do scientific data support their use? American Academy of Dermatology, Vol. 63, No. 3.

(5) Zouboulis, C.C., Makrantonaki, E. (2011) Clinical aspects and molecular diagnostics of skin aging. Clinics in Dermatology, 29, 3–14.

(6) Krutmann, J. (2009) Pre- and probiotics for human skin. Journal of Dermatological Science 54, 1–5.

(7) Babilas, B. (2010) Light-assisted therapy in dermatology: The use of intense pulsed light (IPL). Medical Laser Application, Vol. 25, 61–69.

(8) Lee, S.Y., You, C.E. & Park, M.Y. (2007) Blue and red light combination LED phototherapy for acne vulgaris in patients with skin phototype IV. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, 39:180–188.

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