First off, these are supplements designed to be added to an already healthy diet. Not substitutions as there are no substitutions for a balanced diet. The majority of your micronutrients should be coming in the way of natural sources from your food and drink.
Aiming to get an adequate amount of nutrients from your diet is good but you still may be missing pieces of the puzzle. Often, what is deemed a sufficient recommended daily intake isn’t close to the optimal amount when we’re talking maximisation of health & performance. The RDI’s in most cases are numbers that represent the minimal amount to not cause health issues, not the dosage you should be aiming for to get the best out of yourself. These numbers can easily be over triple what the RDI indicates.
This is where supplementation comes in clutch. Getting those boosters of micronutrients you may be deficient in can be very helpful. Magnesium, Gelatin + Vit C & Shilajit may not sound flashy and exciting but all have unique and important roles in the performance of an athlete.
Magnesium (Mg) is an essential mineral involved in energy metabolism, cardiorespiratory function, and muscle actions. The general population & physically active individuals have both been shown to have insufficient Mg intake. Exercise performance may be compromised with deficient Mg levels as it’s the second most common electrolyte.
Mg deficiencies are very common in the western diet because we don’t consume very large amounts of foods that contain Mg. The best sources of naturally occurring Mg are nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts) and leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens).
This deficiency adds to the fact that athletes lose magnesium through sweat and urine at higher rates than gen pop. These factors generally lead to the need for supplementation. The recommended daily intake for athletes is set at 500 to 800 mg with an ongoing discussion that this could be underestimating the optimal dosage.
The best types of magnesium for performance supplementation are Mg glycinate & Mg citrate. A dosage of 800-1500mg is where I would start. A larger dosage can cause gastrointestinal distress in some individuals so starting at 800mg and moving up from there to 1000-1500mg over time is a smart idea.
Gelatin + vitamin C
Athletes’ bodies take a beating through training, competition and everyday life. Keeping your soft tissue healthy throughout these stressors can be tough so finding ways to maximise your tendon & ligament health is vital. Supplementation of gelatin & vitamin C pre-exercise has been shown to increase collagen synthesis leading to improved soft tissue health.
What does collagen do? Why does it matter?
Collagen is one of the major structural protein and building blocks made within your body and falls into one of three categories; type 1, type 2 and type 3 fibres. These fibres all have vital roles such as;
Type I - reinforces bone, cartilage, tendons, teeth and connective tissue (makes up 90% of all collagen fibres)
Type II - major collagen in elastic cartilage and is the gel-like substance designed to provide cushioning and allow joints to absorb shock. Also known as hyaline or articular cartilage.
Type III - supports the structure of muscles, organs, and arteries.
The body produces lower-quality and volumes of collagen as we age so finding ways to upregulate the production of collagen is a huge benefit to longevity of performance.
The supplementation of 5-15g of gelatin powder with 500mg of vitamin C with an exercise session 1-hour post-consumption has been shown to significantly increase collagen synthesis and is an easy way to get some additional benefits from exercise you’re already doing.
When looking for vitamin C sources, try to find a source of multiple compounds that comprise the Vit C. Most common cheap vitamin C supplements are purely ascorbic acid which is poorly absorbed, not processed very well by the body and should be avoided if possible.
What is shilajit? You’d be forgiven for never having heard of it in the western world. Shilajit is a sticky, black, tar-like substance that is found primarily in the rocks of the Himalayas. Over thousands of years, the organic substances that ultimately compose shilajit are compressed, combined and transformed into a pale-brown or black-brown, mineral-rich paste.
Shilajit in its pure form generally contains 50 percent fulvic acid and a complex network of more than 85 different vitamins and minerals.
Shilajit has been harvested and used for thousands of years by those who work within India’s Ayurvedic system of health care (a health care system with a holistic focus on mind, body, spirit). Modern research has been able to support many of the millennia-old claims recognizing shilajit as a safe, natural and effective supplement for promoting male reproductive health and for boosting testosterone levels. Only recently has the incredible potential for shilajit in sports supplementation started to be researched.
Studies have shown many very promising finds while taking 200-500 mg/d shilajit such as;
13% increase in their adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels. ATP is the source of energy for use and storage at the cellular level so an increase in ATP levels can easily translate into improved energy levels.
13% increase in exercise time before failure in healthy recreational athletes increased with an improvement of oxygen use by about 9%.
Retention of maximal muscular strength following fatigue-inducing protocol (8.9 ± 2.3%) compared with no dose (16.0 ± 2.4%)
Significantly increased serum testosterone by 23.5 percent
These are just a few results of recent studies that show shilajit to be a very promising performance enhancer for virtually everyone, no matter what age, sex or performance level.
A dosage of 500-1000mg is on the higher side of what most studies used but will help attenuate the deficiencies we would have for a large amount of these minerals we think we may be getting from our food but aren’t. Overfarming in the same soil causes trace minerals to be used up and not replenished so it’s better to aim a little higher here than the quantity the studies use.