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Get Fit Installment #10: Supplementation

Posted Nov 26, 2013

For those who have joined the UnitedHealthcare Get Fit! initiative, Buccaneers Cheerleader Karen, a certified personal trainer, offers advice on natural supplements that can improve your health and workout results



[Editor's Note: Karen, a veteran on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders squad is part of a rotating panel of Buccaneer experts who will be providing advice all season to those who have taken the UnitedHealthcare Get Fit! Pledge. Karen has been working as a personal trainer at Vibe Fit Club for the past year since receiving her certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.  Before that, she was working as a group fitness instructor in a class setting.  In the 10 of our weekly installments, Karen returns with tips on five types of natural supplements that promote good health and can lead to better results in a new fitness regimen.]

The last time I had the opportunity to offer you some advice, I wrote about the different options available to you when you are starting a new workout program.  What I want to discuss today – supplementation – would have been good information at the start of a new program, too, but fortunately it is also good advice at any stage of a fitness regimen, and indeed throughout your life.

I'd like to suggest five supplements that are good for an active lifestyle, supplements everyone can take and that will help you meet your fitness goals.

The first supplement I would suggest is a multi-vitamin, and you should try to avoid the generic store brands that you might get at the normal pharmacies or grocery stores.  The reason I say this is, basically, you get what you pay for.  Those products cost less, but they are tested in larger batches and that means they can be less pure.  In other words, with these brands you are not necessarily getting the amounts of nutrients that you are looking for.  I recommend that you try to find a multivitamin either through a pharmaceutical-grade company or a natural foods store.  The items there are going to contain exactly what you're paying for, which is the nutrients and the vitamins in the amounts you are looking to buy.

What the multivitamin is going to do is fill in the gaps between what we should be getting from our diets and what most of us are not.  That can be due to low nutrient levels in the processed foods we're eating, or to the restrictive diets that we're following or even to the fact that the soil our food is growing in is not as nutrient-rich as it was a hundred  years ago.  Basically, we're not getting everything we need from our diet, and a good multivitamin is going to fill in those gaps.

I would also recommend probiotics.  What a probiotic is going to do is regulate your digestive system and fight disease.  Basically, you're going to feel better when your digestive system is regulated, for obvious reasons.  These are readily available at different natural food stores.  You may have to try a couple to find one that works for you because there are many different brands and some of them work better for some people than others.  Some people believe they don't need probiotics because they eat a lot of yogurt, which is an equivalent product, but unless you're eating 10 cups of yogurt you're not going to get the equivalent benefit to a probiotic.

Next, I would suggest a B complex.  This is a combination of all the essential B vitamins, and what it's going to do is help you with energy production in your cells.  This is important, because B vitamins are used up when you're in a high-stress situation or you're fighting off an illness or you're engaged in a lot of physical activity. This is obviously a key for you if you are sticking with the fitness program you started a couple months ago and getting a lot more physical activity than you did before.

Another supplement I would suggest is vitamin D, which can help fight depression and certain cancers.  You can actually get vitamin D from sunlight, but a lot of us our indoors for most of the day and we don't necessarily have time to go outside for an adequate amount of exposure to the sun.

Finally, I would suggest supplementing with essential fatty acids – your basic fish oil, basically.  That is going to fight cardiovascular disease and fortify your immune system, which is obviously two things that you want.  This is another supplement for which people are going to say, "I get plenty of this in my diet because I eat fish," but unless you eat a large quantity of fish in a day you're not going to get it from just your diet.

I know these types of supplements aren't the first things that people think about when they think about establishing a healthy lifestyle.  They think of working out and eating right, but supplementation is important, too, because it's going to keep your body working properly.  And if your body is working properly, you're going to see results faster in your fitness regimen.

- Karen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleader