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Dietary supplements are designed to provide nutrients that include vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acid, or fiber. The word supplement means that these compounds are not designed to be taken in excess, but should be taken to complement the diet and provide nutrients that may be missing or not consumed in sufficient amounts. Supplements come in many forms - pills, powders, and liquids - and are usually designed to help with a specific deficiency or disease. Athletes also take supplements to boost performance.
Due to a higher risk of osteoporosis, women should eat a diet that is high in calcium or consider taking a calcium dietary supplement. Iron is also recommended for women as it makes up a part of the red blood cells and is responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood. Since women are responsible for childbearing, they are at a higher risk for iron deficiency. Another recommended dietary supplement for women is folic acid. Folic acid is especially important for expectant mothers as it can prevent birth defects. It is found in many nuts, beans, and green vegetables but can be taken in supplement form as well.
While women can benefit from dietary supplements, athletes can also enhance their performance by taking certain dietary supplements. While the effect of taking these supplements may vary from person to person, there are numerous supplements used by many of the top athletes. Creatine has become a popular sports supplement today and is made from amino acids methionine, arginine, and glycine. These amino acids are specific building blocks of protein that are responsible for muscle repair and can work to increase muscle mass and endurance. An athlete who is interested in adding on muscle bulk may consider taking creatine supplements.
Beta-alanine is another amino acid which is used by athletes who perform high intensity training. In studies where athletes took the supplement for three weeks, they found that they were able to increase their lean muscle mass and improved their endurance. Another athletic supplement that is commonly overlooked is caffeine. While excess amounts of caffeine can have a negative effect on athletic performance, a moderate consumption can actually be effective in increasing endurance. Many sports drinks contain some caffeine for this reason.
While most doctors and dietitians recommend living a healthy lifestyle and following a balanced diet, it can be easy to miss out on some important vitamins and minerals. While individuals should focus on improving their diet, taking supplements can be a good way to fill in the gaps. Many people may benefit from taking an occasional multi-vitamin or specific supplement. Athletes may also find that taking sports supplements can help improve their performance and endurance. It is recommended to consult your physician before starting any vitamin or supplements to boost overall health.