When you take supplements or vitamins in sport or to get ready for military training, there are two basic things to consider. 1) Are they safe? 2) Do they work?
On the first point, most would agree that no short term gains using unsafe products are worth long term health risks. Additionally, a soldier can risk more than his or her own health if you have a negative reaction to a supplement that you’re taking. You can risk the mission, and the safety of your unit.
On the second point, that answer can be a little more difficult. Lifestyle, nutrition, your baseline health, and your unique body makeup can affect how much benefit you’re going to get from supplements and vitamins in sport.
Vitamins in Sport: Is Chromium Picolinate the “Magic Bullet”?
If you’re an athlete, you know that there is no magic pill that’s going to replace basic training that builds muscle, endurance, and mental toughness. However, there are some vitamins in sports that you can consider adding to your dietary supplement routine that can enhance the work you’re putting in.
Chromium is one of those supplements. So let’s talk about what it is, and why supplementation may be necessary.
The Role of Chromium for Vitamins in Sports and Military Training
So what exactly does chromium do for your body? Well, the fact is we don’t really know! It’s not for lack of research that scientists are unclear about how important chromium is to your body; it’s just that the studies are unclear.
This is normal in nutritional research because so many minerals and vitamins taken for sports and military training work best in combination. It’s just not as easy as saying “X mineral does X in the body”. A well-tuned body is a group project!
However, we do get clues. At least one study revealed that low levels of chromium resulted in low insulin performance. So chromium seems to have a positive effect on insulin regulation. If you are taking vitamins in sport and for endurance activities you’ll appreciate its importance in the metabolism of fats, carbs, and protein.
And while a lot has been written and advertised about chromium picolinate and its benefits for gaining lean muscle mass, weight loss and fat reduction, the study results are mixed. There were a few studies that suggested there was a connection; however, there were also several studies that stated the results were not as fabulous as one would hope.
Why the discrepancy? Simple…each person is different. Their baseline health is difference, their body makeup is different, and their nutritional needs are different. The only way that you are going to find out if this mineral is effective for you is to include it in your supplements. You’ll find chromium picolinate in Military Grade’s Multipurpose High Potency complex.
What’s important for you as a soldier that is involved in more intense and consistent training than an average civilian is that a marginal intake of chromium combined with physiological stress, physical trauma and extreme exercise could result in chromium deficiency.
Chromium deficiency is rare; however, people who are more active and involved in strength and endurance training are more likely to have lower amounts than needed.
What we eat, how that food is prepared, and the quality of dietary supplements we take determine how much chromium is actually absorbed. This is actually true of all dietary nutrients. It’s why you need to pay attention to the ingredients in your dietary supplements to be sure they meet the needs of your lifestyle.
How to Ensure Proper Absorption of Chromium
Chromium is naturally found in foods you consume everyday like meat, fish, poultry and whole grains. So can you just eat more of those things and get enough?
The problem is that when these foods are processed, the chromium is stripped away. Since many (most) foods are processed, dietary supplements and vitamins are used to replace what has been removed.
As you look at your dietary supplement ingredients you’ll notice that most forms of dietary chromium are combined with another element. The reason for this is so it can be readily absorbed by the body. Most often you will see it in the form of chromium picolinate.
Can food sources contain an element that allows chromium to be absorbed? Sure! Foods that contain ascorbic acid promote chromium absorption such as:
- Red and Green Bell Peppers
- Tomato Juice
However, you must to prepare these foods with as little heat as possible to prevent the loss of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is water soluble. Less ascorbic acid means less absorption of chromium.
So, are there any foods that can block absorption of chromium picolinate?
Yes! Foods that contain phytates bind to the chromium and can stop the mineral from transport across the intestinal tract and inhibit absorption.
These foods are healthy and contain other things your body needs so they are not “bad” or something you should avoid. You just need to be aware that consuming them may limit the trace minerals absorbed by your body:
Additionally, some medicines can interfere with the absorption of chromium:
- Medicines that alter stomach acidity such as antacids, corticosteroids, and proton pump inhibitors
- Beta-blockers which are normally used to treat conditions such as abnormal heart rhythm, high blood pressure, tremors and migraines
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often prescribed for thing such as arthritis, tendinitis, and bursitis and can be found in OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and prioxicam.
- Prostaglandin inhibitors
Which Vitamins in Sport are best for Lean Muscle Mass and Fat Reduction?
Keeping your body and mind fit for performance comes from dedication, consistent effort, eating the right foods, and taking the best dietary supplements, right? What you do physically builds upon what you do nutritionally, and vice-versa.
The best supplements are the ones that are built for your lifestyle. Don’t just take something because it’s popular or it’s what everyone else is doing. Take it because it’s safe and it works for you.
When it comes to chromium picolinate, building lean muscle mass, and fat reduction, one thing to be aware of from research is that better results seem to come to those that take chromium picolinate in combination with other supplements such as L-Carnitine.
The right support for the physical and mental requirements of military life is all about getting the right combination of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals and delivering them in the right combination at the right time. This balance will result in optimal performance.
To find out more about what’s in your dietary supplements, be sure to get your copy of the Muscle Building ABCs by clicking here.