Nutritional Supplements for High School and College Athletes: What’s Worth Considering

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It’s time for fall sports! Whether it’s football, soccer, volleyball, softball, baseball, golf, or cross-country running, high school and college students around the country are gearing up for another season. As competition among younger athletes grows more competitive, some student-athletes may start wondering about the possible benefits of nutritional supplements. Of course, the reality is that no nutritional supplement is going to turn an average high school kid into into a top college recruit overnight, or take a collegiate athlete from walk-on to MVP–only a combination of talent, hard work, and dedication will do that.  However, when it comes to athletic performance at the increasingly competitive high school and college levels, nutrition is still an important concern, and certain nutritional supplements may have a role to play for some student-athletes.

No matter what sport you (or your child) plays, getting the right balance of nutrients is a top concern. Rather than looking for a miracle pill to boost performance, the goal should be to promote healthy growth and development, avoid nutritional deficiency, and ultimately establish positive exercise and eating habits that can simultaneously support excellence in athletics and success in all other areas of life. Here are a few of the nutritional supplements that high school and college athletes may want to consider discussing with their healthcare providers as the fall sports season gets underway:



  • Whey Protein


Protein is an essential component of every athlete’s diet–not just athletes who are trying to bulk up. However, many high school and collegiate athletes today find it difficult to get enough protein to meet their needs. One way to avoid a protein deficit is to supplement with a functional food that contains all-natural whey protein. This nutritional supplement is especially convenient for busy students who already barely have time for breakfast or lunch. Instead of skipping one (or both) of these meal– which will surely lead to a decline in athletic performance–a time-strapped athlete can quickly mix up a whey protein smoothie, either with water alone or blended with other fruits and vegetables that can help power performance. Whey protein also helps restore muscles after hard workouts, so a smoothie makes a great post-workout recovery drink.



  • Iron


Iron-deficiency anemia can affect any athlete, but it is particularly common among female endurance athletes–especially those who do not eat a lot of red meat. The most common symptom of low iron levels is fatigue, which not only interferes with athletic performance but can also lead to academic and social problems. Even for the most dedicated student-athlete, feeling tired all the time makes it extremely difficult to balance a full course load with a grueling practice schedule. Therefore, student-athletes may want to consider having their iron checked regularly by a healthcare provider and starting a supplement if their iron levels start to decline.


  • Probiotics


Probiotic supplements introduce “good” bacteria into the GI tract, and studies suggest that they can have a wide range of benefits for any young person–not just athletes. However, probiotics can be particularly beneficial for student-athletes who have GI trouble during long bouts of exercise. Many young athletes feel embarrassed to openly admit their GI troubles, but it’s a relatively common complaint, and a regular probiotic supplement offers a relatively simple, stress-free solution.


  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids


The hard workouts that today’s high school and college athletes face inevitably lead to inflammation, which can promote soreness that interferes with an athlete’s performance. In an effort to keep pain and swelling at bay, some young athletes try to cope by regularly popping nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, even when they aren’t dealing with an injury, just to be sure that the inflammation won’t cause muscle or joint pain that could keep them from playing their best. Not only can overuse of NSAIDs lead to short-term stomach pain and other uncomfortable side effects, but it may also be dangerous for an athlete in the long-term, leading to significant damage in the GI tract. Omega-3 fatty acids supplements are a safe, all-natural alternative that can support long-term joint health and help alleviate inflammation-related aches and pains for athletes, without putting their health at risk.


  • Glutamine


Like probiotics, L-glutamine is an all-natural supplement that boasts a plethora of benefits. There is some evidence to indicate that it may help boost athletic performance by improving the efficiency with which the body uses energy and optimizing muscle metabolism, both of which can be beneficial for the most serious athletes who are gunning for a breakthrough. At the same time, the supplement provides immune support, which can help ward off mid-season sickness among athletes who are in constantly in close quarters with other students in classrooms and dorms.

Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness is here to help all high school and college athletes achieve their most important athletic, academic, and general wellness goals. Contact us today for more information about our nutrition-related services.

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