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Sports Supplements and Vitamins

Sports vitamins

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements
Chondroitin sulfate is a naturally occurring substance in the body, believed to help the body maintain fluid and flexible joints. It is a major component of cartilage—the tough, elastic connective tissue found in the joints. Glucosamine is produced naturally in the body, where it is a key building block for making cartilage. Glucosamine may help develop and renew cartilage and keep it lubricated. This combination of chondroitin and glucosamine is widely used to help maintain healthy joints. It is also used as a nutritional supplement in people with osteoarthritis or other inflammatory joint disorders because it is believed to help slow down progression of joint disease. Learn more about chondroitin and glucosamine supplements.

Because the government does not regulate manufacturers of supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine, you should not substitute or use them in addition to medications prescribed by your doctor. Make sure you buy them from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Talk to your doctor about any restrictions to using supplements. You may not be able to take chondroitin and glucosamine if you have diabetes or a bleeding or clotting disorder like hemophilia, allergies to certain drugs, if you are overweight or if you are on a low-salt diet.

Some other warnings to keep in mind:

  • Use chondroitin and glucosamine only as directed on the label and by your doctor.
  • Do not take chondroitin and glucosamine without consulting with your doctor if you are using insulin, a blood thinner (such as Miradon or Coumadin), or chitosan (a weight-loss product).
  • Do not use chondroitin and glucosamine without consulting your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant or are breast-feeding a baby. Side effects to a fetus or infant are unknown.
  • Get emergency help if you have any of these allergic reactions: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat. Less serious side effects include mild nausea, upset stomach, heartburn or diarrhea.

Vitamins
Vitamins are essential nutrients your body needs to maintain good health and function. Your body needs 13 vitamins for proper nutrition: A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate). You can usually get all the vitamins you need through food and your body can make vitamins D and K. Vegetarians may need to take a vitamin B12 supplement.

There are two different groups of vitamins: water-soluble (B-complex and C) and fat-soluble (A, D, E and K). Water-soluble vitamins are easily absorbed by the body, which doesn't store large amounts. The kidneys remove excess vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed into the body through bile acids that absorb fat. The body stores these for later use.

The best way to ensure proper vitamin intake is to eat a varied, balanced diet of foods. In some cases, a daily multivitamin may be recommended for optimal health. It is important to keep in mind that high doses of some vitamins can make you sick. Learn more about vitamins, minerals and supplements.

Quick Tips about Vitamins

  • Retain full vitamin strength in your foods by refrigerating fresh produce, keeping milk and grains away from strong light and using water from vegetable cooking to prepare soups.
  • Only small amounts of vitamins A, D, E and K are needed to maintain good health.
  • Food does not lose fat-soluble vitamins when cooked.
  • The body stores fat-soluble vitamins in the liver when they are not needed.
  • Most people do not need vitamin supplements. However, some health problems may decrease the absorption of fat, which decreases the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K.

Regarding the use of vitamin supplements, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following dietary guidelines:

  • Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages within the basic food groups and match nutrient intake with energy needs. Limit saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt and alcohol.
  • For those over age 50, consume vitamin B-12 in its crystalline form found in fortified foods or supplements.
  • For women of childbearing age who may become pregnant, eat foods high in heme-iron and/or eat iron-rich plant foods or iron-fortified foods with an iron-absorption enhancer such as Vitamin C. Also, for women in their first trimester of pregnancy, take a folic acid supplement in addition to eating a varied diet rich in folates.
  • For older adults, adults with dark skin, or those exposed to insufficient ultraviolet band radiation (sunlight), consume extra vitamin D from fortified foods or supplements.

Visit the FDA consumer website on vitamins for more information.