If you’re wondering what kind of vitamins should I take, then here are the four supplements I choose to take on a daily basis, which are suited for both men and women. Please note I am not a doctor or dietitian, just a fitness professional. This is purely opinion based chitchat, open to discussion. Please consult your dietitian or doctor before you start a new exercise or nutrition programme. Further info on this disclaimer can be read here.
I’ve taken multivitamins for a long while. Probably over ten years now. Even though there’s strong evidence suggesting there are no health benefits to a daily multivitamin consumption (1) and you are best avoiding them unless you have dietary requirements.
I do still choose to take them. One reason is that I sometimes struggle with consuming my five-a-day. With this in mind, I do workout quite regularly and this will increase the number of free radicals in the body. A free radical is a chemical “species” that contains an unpaired electron. This is bad to have as it wants stability. Supplementing with vitamins, such as vitamin c, which have antioxidant properties will help eliminate free radicals (2). Evidence suggests we should aim to get antioxidants from food, such as blueberries, beans, nuts and dark chocolate (3).
It has also been suggested that regular supplementation of vitamin and minerals could reduce the risk of some cancers in men (4). Another study suggests supplementing multivitamins can improve mood, energy and mental performance while reducing stress in healthy males (5). Make sure your multivitamins are of high quality.
Omega 3-6-9 flaxseed and fish oil capsules
Flaxseed oil has numerous benefits to the body. It is a source of healthy fat, antioxidants and fibre. It is suggested that it lowers high cholesterol in men (6) and helps reduce certain cancers (7). Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are types of polyunsaturated fats and considered an essential fatty acid because they cannot be manufactured by the body. Omega 3 is said to help depression (8) and healthy brain function (9). Omega 9 fatty acids are from unsaturated fats and commonly found in vegetable and animal fats. Omega 9 acids are produced by the body and also said to be beneficial when supplemented. It is suggested that Omega 9 helps increase energy, decrease anger and enhance mood (10).
Whey protein drinks which includes all essential amino acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Essential Amino acids are defined as “an amino acid which cannot be synthesised by the organism, and thus must be supplied by its diet” (11). Supplementing with protein shakes following resistance exercise stimulates an increased response of muscle protein synthesis or muscle growth in humans (12). BCAA is a very popular supplement as it contains three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. You can actually buy whey isolate protein powder which contains all the essential amino acids and study suggests that in order to achieve muscle protein synthesis, you need all nine essential amino acids present (13). I aim to take around 20g (+/-) of BCAA per day, pre and post workout.
Vitamin D is sometimes labelled the wonder drug and is obtained through sun exposure and certain foods such as cod liver oil, salmon and milk. It has numerous health benefits such as maintaining the health of bones and teeth (14) and helps protect against cold and flu.
(12) Smith et al., 1998; Tipton et al., 1999a)