7 effective nutritional supplements to boost your fitness

May 13 2016

There is no substitute for a healthy, balanced diet. Absolutely, unequivocally none.

While it would be nice to think that all of our dietary needs could be satisfied with a couple of pills each day, there’s no such thing as a silver bullet. That being said, don’t be too quick to discount nutritional supplements just yet.

Certain vitamins can help to redress any imbalances in your diet, but remember that they are only there to SUPPLEMENT your food and drink intake. The clue is in the name.

Fitness First Clubs personal trainer, Carly Tierney, has identified seven useful additives that can help keep your body in perfect working order, giving you the best possible platform to smash your health and fitness targets.

Wise words on diet supplements from a qualified nutritionist…


Carly commented: “My advice would be that any fitness newbie should aim to understand the basics of good nutrition to support their health and fitness goals before using dietary supplements. Vitamins should, as a general rule, be supplementary to a great diet for most average gym-goers. They have their place but are not an addition to a poor diet or miracle pills.”

7 dietary supplements you should consider

1) Multi-vitamins

Vitamin supplements have caused quite a stir in recent years, with many people calling their effectiveness into question.

In truth, there’s a lack of thorough scientific evidence to make too many bold claims either way. However, Dr. Howard Sesso, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, was quoted in 2014 as saying:

“Multi-vitamin supplementation is low risk and low cost, and it helps to fill potential gaps in the diet that people might have. There are compelling reasons to consider taking a multi-vitamin for cancer and eye disease that should be discussed with your physician.”

Good news for those who swear by discount supplements.

What does Carly say?

“[Multi-vitamins can prompt greater] efficiency of your metabolism, muscle building and performance - they can also support the immune system, which can drop when you are training intensely. I take a high-quality multi-vitamin every day.”

2) Fish oils

Another supplement that has its detractors.

In 2013, it was widely reported that fish oil pills could be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer. The NHS was quick to add some balance to the reports, suggesting that the research could not conclusively confirm that supplements were the cause of the disease.

Even so, the health authority advised that anybody who is considering using fish oil supplements should consult their doctor first.

Nutritional Supplements 2What does Carly say?

Despite the aforementioned study muddying the waters somewhat, Carly suggested that fish oil supplements can be beneficial.

“[They] support healthy cholesterol levels, boost your mood and strengthen bones. They’re also good for overall health which can increase your training capacity as a result. You should try to eat oily fish and eggs anyway, but I do take fish oils as a matter of course.”

3) Magnesium

Often overlooked, magnesium is a vital component of our diet. It has many uses and, in particular, is integral to protein synthesis.

That should capture the attention of the muscle builders among you!

You tend to find magnesium in anything from water to cereals. Spinach is also a good source.

According to the National Institutes of Health, if you’re going to take magnesium supplements, opt for a version that dissolves well in water, as these are “more completely absorbed in the gut than less soluble forms”.

What does Carly say?

“Magnesium is a nutrient that keeps the body healthy and is responsible for many processes such as regulating muscle and nerve function. It also helps to stabilise blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

4) Coenzyme Q10

This is probably the most important antioxidant that you’ve never heard of.

It helps convert food into energy, and as such is probably your biggest pre-workout ally. It is most commonly found in oily fish, organ meats (like liver) and whole grains. This guide from the University of Maryland Medical Center is a good place to go if you’re keen to brush up on your coenzyme 10 knowledge.

What does Carly say?

“Coenzyme Q10 is a disease-fighting antioxidant that is argued to help speed up exercise recovery and reduce damage to muscles caused by intense training.”

5) Probiotics

You can’t have failed to notice the plethora of yoghurt adverts on the TV that sing the praises of probiotics.

Although the NHS is sceptical of some of the seemingly outlandish claims made by said dairy brands, it is widely suggested that probiotics - which are often billed as “good bacteria” - can keep your gut healthy.

What does Carly say?

“Probiotics help to promote a healthy digestive tract and immune system. They assist good gut health and can help to support changes in diet that often accompany a new training regime. I use these everyday as I have allergies and they help me with bloating.

6) Vitamin B12

Nutritional Supplements 3The National Institutes of Health (NIH) identifies the main benefits of vitamin B12 as stimulating red blood cell formation, supporting neurological function and catalysing DNA synthesis.

Vitamin B12 is bound to protein in food, so if you’re getting plenty of chicken, fish and eggs in your quest to build killer muscles, you should be familiar with it.

If you’re struggling to get enough Vitamin B12 through food, you might want to consider taking supplements. The NIH says you can get them in tablet or lozenge form.

What does Carly say?

“Vitamin B12 is thought to help with fatigue. It helps to keep our body’s blood and nerve cells healthy.”

7) Vitamin D

Known as the “sunshine vitamin”, it’s easy to see why many Britons are deficient in vitamin D. Our weather is letting us down big time!

Our not-so-temperate climate has sparked a great deal of debate, with major newspapers reporting in 2015 that some experts believe the government should see fit that we all get access to vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D brings untold benefits, not least staving off nasty bone conditions such as rickets.

What does Carly say?

“Vitamin D is great for healthy teeth and bones. I would argue that this is something we can get from oily fish and eggs as well as sunlight. Most multi-vitamins also include vitamin D. Adequate levels of vitamin D are thought to be linked to increased athletic performance, increased fitness levels and better muscle function and recovery.”

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