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Nutritional insurance

I hear a lot of chatter about supplements, especially multivitamins. I am a firm believer in "food is your medicine". However, our active lifestyles, alongside the ever-changing food industry, make it quite challenging when it comes to meeting our individual vitamin and mineral recommendations. Supplements and multi's are NOT replacements for real food. I believe that you start with the diet and then supplement depending on what you may be lacking. Often, it is hard to know if we are lacking in any specific nutrient. Because we put our bodies under stress on a daily basis (athlete or fitness enthusiast) I think it is a great idea to add a multivitamin to your daily routine.
I hope you enjoy my latest article from the FREE Iron Girl newsletter!

Nutritional Insurance for your Athletic Lifestyle


Fast-paced lifestyles, catchy company slogans and inadequate meal planning have left a large portion of our population relying on convenience foods for many, if not all, daily meals, and it's is no surprise that the typical diet is far from superb. As an Iron Girl athlete, you are taking the necessary steps to live an active and healthy lifestyle and are likely trying to maintain a balanced diet. Competitive athletes have an added challenge to find the balance between a healthy diet with proper nutrients to support their activity level.

The human body requires many essential nutrients to perform daily functions such immune system defense, free radical protection, mental acuity, muscle contractions, skin, bone and tissue rejuvenation and energy requirements for physical activity. For example, the minerals calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium are well-known electrolytes needed during long-term or intense exercise, but are also required for normal functioning of cells and organs as well as for cardiac support. In an effort to care for your athletic routine and the health of your body, it may be a good investment to purchase a multivitamin supplement to ensure sufficient consumption of vitamins and minerals.

It is important to note that a multivitamin does not replace real food, especially heart-healthy foods such as fruits, veggies, lean and low fat protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy unsaturated fats. According to the position of the American Dietetic Association, "the best strategy for promoting optimal health and reducing the risk for chronic disease is to choose a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods" (1).

Although a multivitamin is a not a performance-enhancer, it may help to bring you to an optimal level if you are currently deficient in certain nutrients. If you are seeking a product to help meet vitamin and mineral recommendations, avoid individually-sold vitamins and minerals and choose a multivitamin. Certain vitamins and mineral supplements, such as Vitamin A, are toxic at high levels (2).

What to look for when picking your multivitamin:

* Look for a multivitamin labeled with the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) label. "USP's documentary standards and reference standards are used by regulatory agencies and manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, and food ingredients to ensure that these products are of the appropriate strength, quality and purity." (3)
* It is not necessary to prioritize a multivitamin with more than 100 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) or Daily Value (DV) for every single nutrient. Look for key vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, folic acid, potassium, selenium, zinc, sodium, chromium and molybdenum (4).
* Generic brands are just as likely to meet your nutrient needs as an expensive brand (5). Additionally, a multivitamin targeted to athletes is not a guarantee that performance will be improved. Read ingredients and make the best educational guess on a multivitamin that will fit your daily needs (example: a vegetarian may want to look for an omega or kelp fortified multivitamin).
* Try to avoid artificial preservatives, allergens, dyes, colorings or other contaminants. Not everything ingested in a multivitamin is absorbed in its full capacity. A multivitamin with an excess of additives may destroy the nutritional value of the multivitamin.



Multivitamin Options:
- Premium Insurance Caps - Hammer Nutrition
- Nature's Made
- Flinstones Complete
- Metagenics*
- Numedica*
- Zymogen*
*contact your physician/clinician for purchase


References:
(1) Marra, M.V. and Boyar, A.P. (2009). Position of the American Dietetic Association: nutrient supplementation. J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 109(12): 2073-85.

(2) Penniston, K. L. and Tanumihardjo, S. A. (2006). The acute and chronic toxic effects of vitamin A. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 83(2): 191-201.

(3) U.S. Pharmacopeia. 2009. Retrieved August 2nd, 2010 from http://www.usp.org/

(4) Colgan, M. (2002). Sports Nutrition Guide: Minerals, vitamins and antioxidants for athletes. Apple Publishing Company.

(5) Stoppler, M. and Hecht, B. K. (2009). Generic Drugs, are they as good as brand names?
Retrieved December 19th, 2009 from http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=46204