Demystifying Sports Nutrition

Antioxidants & Supplements

If you’re eating proper proportions of complex carbohydrates, protein, dairy and healthy fats to match your activity level, strive to consume a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, and don’t eliminate entire food groups, you might not need additional supplements.

“We don’t know all of the beneficial compounds that are in every food, but we do know that there are compounds and enzymes in food that the body can digest that aren’t present in supplements and vitamins,” says Applegate.

In addition, whole foods provide the best source of nutrients because, when eaten in certain combinations, the compounds create reactions that allow for better absorption of the vitamins and minerals. For example, vitamin C increases the absorption of iron—a mineral that women need 18mg and men need 8mg of daily—so eating a salad made of high-iron spinach and vitamin C-filled strawberries is beneficial.

Mega doses of antioxidants, or more than twice the FDA-recommended daily allowance, can prove detrimental because they can break down proteins, says Austin.Supplement use should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

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