While athletes may have slightly higher vitamin and mineral requirements than nonathletes, currently there are no recommendations for how much more they need. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine says you should be able to get all the nutrients you need, even at higher levels, from the food you eat. If you feel you need to take a multivitamin supplement, you do not need to take any special formulation designed for athletes. Consult your doctor to help you decide the right multivitamin for you.
Vitamins and Minerals for Athletes
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says athletes need to make sure they meet their daily vitamin C and D and B vitamin needs. As an antioxidant, vitamin C protects your body from free radical damage, vitamin D is important for healthy bones and the B vitamins help extract the energy you need from the food you eat.
When looking for a supplement, you want to choose one that meets about 100 percent of the daily value but doesn't exceed your daily needs. The effects of mega-dosing on vitamins and minerals is not known, according to the Colorado State University Extension, and more is not always better.
Keep It Simple With Your Multi
A multivitamin and mineral supplement you take once a day may work best for a busy athlete. There are a wide variety of options to choose from, including brands made with synthetic vitamins and ones made from whole foods. One is not necessarily better than the other, however. The Colorado State University Extension notes that no matter what the source, vitamins lose their potency over time, especially if stored in warm temperatures or exposed to light.
To make sure you're getting the most benefit, purchase your supplement from a well-known store that restocks its supplies regularly.
Fortified Sport Drinks
As an athlete, you may consider fortified sports drinks as an option to up your nutrient intake. These types of beverages not only help you meet your daily vitamin and mineral needs, but they also keep you hydrated. They may be a source of carbs and protein as well, so they may be used as a meal replacement before or after you exercise.
You may need to limit the amount you drink, however, especially if one serving meets 100 percent or more of the daily value of a number of nutrients.
About Special Formulations
There are number of special multivitamin supplements geared specifically toward athletes. These formulas are marketed as energy-boosters and performance enhancers, but there is no proof that any nutrient or supplement can do either, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Eating enough of the right foods ensures that you will meet your increased daily vitamin and mineral needs and perform at your best.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vitamin Needs of Athletes
- American College of Sports Medicine: Vitamin and Mineral Supplements and Exercise
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Supplements: Vitamins and Minerals
- U.S. News and World Report: Health: How to Choose a Multivitamin
- Nebraska School Activities Association: Recommendations for Hydration to Prevent Heat Illness