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Micronutrient Supplementation

Might be helpful for swimmers

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Do you think that your diet provides the optimum amount of all nutrients, and thus you take no supplements? If you answered, “Yes,” then this is an important article for you, one that we’re hopeful will convince you of the importance of a supplement program to augment your diet, not to mention all of the hard work you do in the pool and weight room.

“I eat a fairly good diet most of the time. Why do I need supplements?”

The sad truth is that the “balanced diet will provide all you need” notion is a myth. You cannot obtain all of the nutrients your body requires from your diet, and here’s why:

  • New studies show that food alone does not supply all of the micronutrients we need to prevent deficiency, let alone achieve optimal health. Did you get that? Forget about providing enough nutrients to promote optimal health, many people do not eat enough quality food to meet the minimal Referenced Daily Intake (RDI) micronutrient requirements for preventing deficiency-related disorders. For hard-training swimmers, that’s even more sobering because it’s a well-accepted truth that athletes use up more nutrients than non-athletes do.
  • Very few of us have routine access to fresh, locally grown foods. Much of our diet comes from foods grown far away, picked when unripe, and then sent packing. Nutritional content is questionable and usually depleted.
  • Even if we could obtain all the nutrients we need from our diet, it’s highly unlikely that any of us eats an ideal diet as consistently as we think we do. For example, are you really eating, each and every day, the five to six servings of vegetables the USDA recommends?

Now, we’re not suggesting that you can neglect your diet, take scads of pills, and have all of your nutrient needs covered. No supplement program can or should take priority over the consumption of a healthy diet—that’s a no-brainer. Supplementation means just what the word implies, supplementary. The pills we take are not a substitute for a healthy diet

Eating Healthy Means:

  • Eating whole grains and locally grown organic fruits and vegetables as much as possible
  • Avoiding packaged, processed foods and junk foods at all times
  • Consuming a low-sodium diet
  • Consumption of a variety of foods, including the aforementioned organic fruits and vegetables, plus foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Avoiding foods containing artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, and preservatives.
  • Minimal consumption of simple sugars (sucrose, fructose, glucose, etc.) and saturated fats.

The Goal of Supplementation

As mentioned earlier, the more active you are, the more nutrients (vitamins, minerals, enzymes, co-enzymes, etc) you’re depleting from your body. That’s why taking supplements is a wise strategy to employ; they help bridge the gap between what you should be receiving and what you’re actually getting from your diet. Consuming the best possible diet as consistently as possible, and augmenting that with an intelligent supplement program, is the best way to cover your nutritional bases. The nutrients that you take should accomplish one or more of the following:

  • Provide adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals to optimize overall health. Remember, as a swimmer you need more vitamins and minerals than sedentary people do, so you want a multivitamin/mineral supplement that contains more than the “bare bones minimum” Referenced Daily Intake (RDI) amounts.
  • Provide a wide range of antioxidants to support enhanced immunity and cardiovascular system functioning via neutralization of free radicals produced by increased physical activity. And while the benefits of training always trump any potential downside, it’s important to remember that swimmers, like all athletes, generate free radicals on the order of 12–20 times more than non–athletes. Unchecked, free radicals cause cell damage and lead to many disease states, which is why antioxidant supplementation is so vital for athletes and active people.
  • Provide key substrates to enhance and ensure efficient production of energy.
  • Provide support for mitochondrial health. In our view, the longer you can stimulate the number, lifespan, and health of the mitochondria (the energy producing “furnaces” in the cells), the longer you will live and the better you will perform. Bluntly stated, the swimmer who has the most healthy/efficient active mitochondria is the swimmer who performs at his or her best.

Hammer Nutrition produces nearly 20 supplements, all with a specific purpose and all of which provide undeniable benefits. However, to cover the above-mentioned primary goals of supplementation, we suggest the following products first and foremost.

  • Premium Insurance Caps – The multivitamin/mineral supplement calibrated using the Optimum Daily Intake (ODI) standard, much more appropriate for swimmers and other athletes than the meager amounts that RDI-containing multivitamins supply.
  • Race Caps Supreme – Provides Coenzyme Q10, idebenone, and other nutrients—the earlier-mentioned substrates (think “spark plugs”)—that help maintain efficient energy production.
  • Mito Caps – Supplies the key nutrients—primarily r-alpha lipoic acid and acetyl l-carnitine—that supports enhanced mitochondrial health and functioning
  • Super Antioxidant – An ultra potent, non-vitamin antioxidant formula. Enhances recovery by reducing soreness and fatigue, improving circulation, and helping to maintain optimal immune system functioning.
  • AO Booster – Its unique fat-soluble antioxidant formula provides powerful protection against fat-soluble-produced free radicals and the specific damage they cause. Additionally, AO Booster helps reduce post-workout muscle soreness and inflammation. Moreover, some of its components provide eye and skin-specific benefits.

Summary

Supplements are just that – they supplement a good diet and provide ideal amounts of important nutrients that you can’t obtain even in the best of diets. Remember, supplements don’t replace a good diet, nor are they a substitute for consistent, high quality training and adequate recovery. You need to make sure those two things—a good diet and a quality training and recovery plan—are already in place. When they are, supplements can definitely help take your swimming performance to the next level, allowing you to make increases in the volume and quality of your swim training, without your immune system taking a hit. If you want to achieve your best performances in your swim workouts and races—and, even more importantly, enjoy optimal health (not minimal, optimal)—then daily supplementation is a necessity, not an option.

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