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Do I Need Vitamin Supplements for CrossFit?

In today’s post, we’re going to slide the focus just a bit. CrossFit is a great path toward optimum health, but it is only part of the equation: all the training in the world isn’t going to do much good if your body doesn’t have the fuel to keep you moving.

CrossFitters as a rule tend to put a great deal of forethought into deciding on a preworkout, where to get the best protein, and how to maximize lifts–and with good reason: balanced and proper protein intake is a crucial component in gaining lean muscle, strength gains, and recovery. Too often, however, this pre-planning doesn’t include the best methods of maintaining a proper balance of vitamins and minerals that affect everything from protein synthesis and muscle recovery/growth to health overall, including mental and physical health.

To maximize your results, your body requires sufficient blood levels of vitamins and minerals. We’re big proponents of trying to maintain these levels through a proper diet, but sometimes circumstances don’t allow that, and you might need a supplement of some type. This, however, is where the waters get murkier. How can you be sure that the supplements you’re taking actually contain what the label says? The quick answer: you can’t.

Regulationless

OK, that’s not a real word, but maybe it should be–especially when it comes to vitamin supplements. In an interview, former FDA Investigator Gary Collins explains that even products from reliable sources aren’t guaranteed to be legitimate.

“Because there is actually so little regulation for supplements, dermatological products and vitamins, there could be just about anything in your facial cream or vitamin,” he states. “Even Centrum vitamins bought from the wrong place (even Walmart or Amazon) could actually be complete garbage with a great sticker.”

He goes on to point out how some fraudsters will mix real vitamins in with shipments of junk: pills from one bottle seems to make you feel great, but the bottle seems to have no effect. By the time you figure it out, of course, you’re past the 20-day-refund mark, so you’re stuck. You could try to argue your cause at the store (or file a chargeback with your bank), but chances are, you’re simply out of luck.

What’s a Poor Vitamin-deficient CrossFitter to Do?

Collins lists several tips for avoiding junk vitamin supplements, but they all get back the same thing: use your head. Don’t buy from shady sources like multi-level marketing companies, don’t buy heavily discounted products, stay away from anything that sounds too good to be true (it probably is).

To increase your chances of getting quality product, stick to small, local merchants, or at least ask the advice of a trusted expert before you buy. Talk to people already using the product, and ask if they would recommend it. And go for smaller brands that have been around long enough to have established a good reputation (although watch out for formerly small brands that have been bought by large corporations.)

Final Words

In the end, as we said, your best bet is always going to be planning to get as much nutrition as possible out of the foods you eat. Focus on grains, fruits, and vegetables; fresh or frozen is best. If you do feel the need for a supplement, be very specific and very picky. Do your homework … then do what’s best for your body.