How Some Common Supplements Affect the Health

Some Common Sports Supplements: Part 2

In this article, we will review the AA (Amino Acids) particularly the Essential AA followed by Multivitamins and Omega 3 fatty acids. (Adapted from BJSM Reviews)

We will try to find out the impartial recommendations and also try to understand the mechanisms and evidence regarding their use. It is important to remember at this point is that performance will only be helped if optimum health is maintained by the athlete. Now let us consider the three supplements below.

1.Essential Amino Acids (EAA):

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The majority of AA ingested by humans is in the combined form as dietary proteins from both and vegetable sources. All proteins in the diet do not have the same nutritional value, because they contain a different proportion of essential amino acids. Essential and non-essential AA refers to whether or not the AA in question can be synthesized by the body at a rate sufficient to meet the normal requirements for protein synthesis. The first-class proteins like dietary products, eggs, fish and meat contain sufficient EAA. However, proteins from plant sources are second class and may be deficient in some EAA. Strict vegan athletes need to plan their diet to ensure that their daily combinations of plant foods provide them with all the essential AAs. During intensive training, they may need to consider supplementing the diet with EAA. Research suggests that the timing of intake of protein related to exercise may be more important and it is the essential AA that is needed to achieve this effect, so athletes who need to be energy conscious may opt for 6-8g of EAA rather than a whole protein source ( 20-25g of high-quality protein). One may warrant the use of EAA for its role in muscle recovery post-training and competition by playing specific roles in cell metabolism and cell signaling pathways.


Vitamin supplements are widely used by both general and athletic populations. A variety of claims have promoted the use of vitamins. From the scientific standpoint what interests most is the antioxidant property of some vitamins. While the antioxidant issue has typically targeted aging and oxidative damage. It is also recognized that exercise is a stimulator of the generation of oxygen radical species and hence athletes might have additional needs for antioxidant vitamins to counter such damage with vitamins A, C, E which antioxidant properties. Other water-soluble vitamins like B -Complex etc have a direct impact on energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism. A daily single dose of multivitamin tablets is generally regarded as safe but over-supplementation may result in disrupted redox balance and maybe a matter of concern.

3.Omega 3 fatty acids (Fish oils):

The omega 3 fatty acids Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are commonly known as fish oils because of their concentrated presence in some fatty fish. The ratio of EPA and DHA vary according to origin (a type of fish, season, the location where the fish is caught, etc). Many commonly available fish oils contain about 30% EPA and DHA. Typical daily intakes of EPA and DHA are likely to be less than 200mg/day. This is much less than the recommendations (up to 500mg/day). Thus supplements can make a substantial contribution to meeting the recommended omega 3 fatty acids intake. When it is consumed it becomes enriched within blood lipids, cells and tissues, and influences metabolism and physiology. The changes induced are considered to lead to improved health or lowered risk of disease. In exercising athletes they may enhance cardiac function resulting in better oxygen delivery to tissues and they also reduce exercise-induced inflammation.

Dr. Sudeep Satpathy 
Sports Science Advisor - Fast&Up

Dr Sudeep Satpathy

-Expert and Writer

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