Do you take vitamins? Even if you don't, you know you probably should. While it's always a good idea to get the bulk of your nutrients and vitamins from whole foods in your diet, supplements are an easy and effective way to boost your intake. After all, most of us aren't exactly eating clean, balanced diets every day—especially this time of year. So the likelihood we're getting all the nutrition we need from our food is pretty low. Quality supplements can fill in the gaps.
We dug into the science and consulted a few experts in nutrition for the top 10 supplements active men should consider adding to their daily routine. Because when you’re an athlete, you push your body and want to get the most from it. That requires fueling up and supercharging your nutrition to help your body realize its peak potential. As for the supplements that made our list, some you’ve no doubt heard of, while others are more of an underrated secret. But they’re all primed to help you live a healthier, happier and longer life.
According to recent statistics, nearly 42% of adults in the United States are vitamin D deficient (and the number goes up for Latinos and African Americans). So most of us could use more of this essential vitamin—known for supporting calcium and phosphorus absorption, boosting brain function and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. What’s more, current research suggests vitamin D supplementation might increase testosterone levels in men suffering from low amounts. And while the recommended daily allowance for men 19 to 50 years old is 600 IU/day in the D3 form, nutritionists say that research suggests that higher amounts might be more appropriate to truly see benefits.
High Potency Vitamin D softgels, $8.23 by Now Supplements
The ancestral diet is centered on the idea of replicating the nutritional and lifestyle practices of our ancestors, harking back to a time before refined sugars, grains, and industrial seed oils infiltrated our plates. One big nutritional component of this diet is liver. One of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet, a single serving of liver is packed with a significant amount of iron, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin A, and copper. But since so few of us want to chow down on a thick hunk of beef liver, the meaty organ now comes in easier-to-swallow supplements that offer all of the nutrients and minerals without any of the grizzly gristle.
Grass-Fed Liver capsules, $39.95 by Ancient Nutrition
Curcumin is the most potent, naturally occurring, anti-inflammatory ingredient found in turmeric. It has been found to help in the management of exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness, thus enhancing recovery and subsequent performance in active people. After all, chronic inflammation can be disruptive on many levels, from slowing down normal cellular processes to general fatigue and weight gain. Curcumin Phytosome is the most clinically studied curcumin on the market with 29-times greater absorption than ordinary curcumin and is vital to keep joints healthy and fight back inflammation.
Curcumin Phytosome capsules, $45 by Thorne
Magnesium is a mineral that's crucial to the body's function. It helps keep blood pressure normal, bones strong, and the heart rhythm steady. It also helps your body absorb certain nutrients, such as calcium, and is thought to have a calming effect on the body. But many experts say that many Americans aren't eating enough foods with magnesium—and those who get less than the recommended amount of magnesium are more likely to have elevated inflammation markers. According to the USDA, about half the U.S. adult population may have insufficient magnesium intakes to support nutritional adequacy, so supplements are vital.
Magnesium Extra Strength softgels, $14.29 by Nature Made
Studies have proven that regular supplements of collagen will boost the body's ability to produce more of it on its own. It's also been shown to aid in rehab and return from injury. Many elite athletes rely on Momentous, a brand that has long proved its commitment to quality ingredients and transparent sourcing. What separates Momentous from the others is that their NSF-certified formula consists of 10 grams of high-quality collagen peptides from pasture-raised, grass-fed bovine hide, further optimized by the addition of 50 mg of Vitamin C, which helps boost the efficacy of collagen in your system.
Collagen Peptides powder, $38.97 by Momentous
Nutrition is an area where trends come and go all the time. But omega-3 fatty acids have stood the test of time. And for good reason. Few nutrients have been studied as thoroughly as omega-3 fatty acids. For instance, did you know that studies indicate that people who consume omega-3s regularly are less likely to be depressed? Omega-3s have long been tied to numerous benefits for heart health—from lowering blood pressure and triglycerides to boosting the “good” HDL cholesterol. They've also been found to improve eye health and reduce risk of macular degeneration, one of the world's leading causes of permanent eye damage and blindness.
Lemon-flavored Omega-3 softgels, $19.85 by Nordic Naturals
When it comes to hydration, many of us think we simply need to drink more. Down some water and that's that. But there's more to quality hydration than simply getting more fluids into your body. The key is fluid balance. That's why electrolytes are so crucial to maintaining optimal health. The real secret to fluid balance is sodium—an essential electrolyte. make sure your electrolyte supplement contains sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium (and little to no sugar).
Recharge electrolyte variety pack, $20 by LMNT
When zinc levels are low in a man’s body, his testosterone and insulin sensitivity can dip. Zinc can also play a role in reducing the duration of the common cold. And since much of our zinc stores are lost through sweat, active men especially have to be mindful of replenishing it through zinc-rich foods (like shellfish and nuts) and quality supplements.
We'll see your standard tea or coffee and raise you this comforting blend of spices and botanicals. Reishi mushrooms—a staple in Eastern medicine—is a heart-healthy supplement that fights fatigue and balances blood sugar. Another mushroom, known as turkey tail, supports immunity, gut health and general wellbeing. Add those to a warming tea that's delicious on its own or combined with any type of milk for a smooth chai latte.
Reishi chai latte mix, $38 by Four Sigmatic
Apple Cider Vinegar
If the idea of downing a gulp of apple cider vinegar—shown to aid in digestion and gut health—isn't that appealing, this is your solution. Boasting a daily dose of apple cider vinegar and vitamin B12, each apple-flavored chew helps to support your microbiome and immune health, while naturally boosting your energy.
Apple Cider Vinegar gummies, $17.69 by Vital Proteins
* The Next Pre-Workout? According to DMARGE, powdered animal placenta capsules could be making their way to your supplement selection very soon thanks to their energy-boosting effects.