Nutritional Supplements for Older Triathletes
As you age, your nutritional needs change as your body changes. As already pointed out, your body does not do as good a job of policing free radicals, which you will be producing more of as you train. That means more inflammation in your tissues and joints.
There are several supplements that can help you cope with your body's reaction to the stress of training.
The first is omega-3 fatty acid, commonly found in fish oil and flax oil. Omega-3 fatty acid is an excellent natural anti-inflammatory supplement that can be of significant benefit to older athletes.
One caution if you are considering taking fish oil capsules: if you are on blood thinners, consult your physician before using omega-3 supplements.
Cramping Your Style
Many new athletes experience problems with leg cramps, particularly in warm weather when they lose a lot of fluid. Electrolyte depletion is one of the causes of cramping. You can help prevent the onset of cramps in your workouts with supplements of calcium and magnesium, two electrolyte minerals (the others are sodium and potassium). It is a good policy to take these supplements together because magnesium helps your body absorb calcium more efficiently than if you take calcium by itself. Calcium-magnesium supplements can also help you sleep better.
The best source for omega-3 fatty acid is fish oil, but not all omega-3s are created equal. It is not unusual for fish oil to contain high levels of mercury. If the product you are considering does not specify that it is mercury free, look elsewhere for your supplement.
Physical exertion produces free radicals, the bad molecules that can damage tissue and increase inflammation, the body's natural reaction to injury. The damage caused by the free radicals is known as oxidation. Any substance that combats this process is known as an antioxidant.
There are a variety of antioxidant supplements you can take that will combat free radicals. The list includes vitamins A, C, E, and B, and there are many fruits that contain antioxidant properties, blueberries being one of the stars in this area.
Nutritional supplements can be very beneficial to you as an older athlete, and it's a good idea to take them. Even better is to plan your daily meals to include plenty of fruits and vegetables, which naturally provide the vitamins and minerals you need. Eat healthy so you can swim, bike, and run hard.
Another way to combat inflammation is through proteolytic enzyme supplementation. Your body produces these enzymes naturally, but production slows down as you age. Some of the food you eat — cooked or processed meat, for example — causes the enzymes to be diverted from their main role of regulating protein function in the body. Instead, they are used to help the body digest the food.
Proteolytic enzymes work against inflammation by neutralizing bio-chemicals associated with the problem. Between the body's natural slowdown of enzyme production and the diversion of the enzymes for food digestion, you are losing a soldier, so to speak, in the battle against inflammation caused by free radical damage. Supplements work well in replacing those lost enzymes. You can find proteolytic enzyme supplements at any health food store.