The weekend warrior
Whether you're a biker, hiker, swimmer, or power shopper, if your favorite way of relaxing on a sleepy Sunday is to plunge headlong into physical activity, then you need to take supplements that will give you energy for exertion as well as those that help you recover from its effects. The following suggestions can help you cope with fatigue, aches, and pains—and generally make Monday mornings more bearable:
Carnitine improves stamina and aerobic capacity by helping the heart use oxygen more efficiently.
BEST DOSE: 900-6,000 mg daily. Take L-carnitine capsules with meals. To treat heart problems or enhance physical performance, try 1,000 mg, two to three times daily. Alcohol and a high-fat diet increase your need.
ALERT! Avoid high doses if pregnant. May cause GI upset.
Calcium strengthens bones, preventing fractures.
BEST DOSE: 1,000 mg daily. Calcium citrate is the most absorbable form, though calcium carbonate and calcium lactate also absorb well. To get the most benefit, take it in small doses throughout the day in liquid, tablet, or chewable form. Get 15 minutes a day of sunlight: This allows your body to manufacture vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium absorption; otherwise, supplement with 200 to 400 IU of vitamin D. Take calcium in a 2-1 ratio with magnesium.
ALERT! Antacids neutralize stomach acids needed to absorb calcium. Supplemental calcium can interfere with calcium-channel blockers, and isn't suggested for people with kidney problems. Too much calcium can accumulate in joints and arterial walls, contributing to degenerative disease. Because of their nondairy diet, vegans may need extra calcium.
Omega-3 fatty acids speed recovery from physical fatigue.
BEST DOSE: 250-3,000 mg daily. Use EPA, omega-3s in their pure form. Take in divided doses with fatty foods.
ALERT! If you're on blood thinners, talk to your doctor before taking omega-3s. Some people find may find omega-3s difficult to digest.
Bromelain prevents inflammation caused by overexertion and sports injuries.
BEST DOSE: 250-500 mg three times daily. Take on an empty stomach. If taken with meals, the enzymes will help digest the food but won't be available for treating conditions.
ALERT! May enhance absorption of quercetin and some drugs. Talk to your doctor if you're taking blood thinners.
Glucosamine protects and strengthens joints.
BEST DOSE: 500-1,500 mg daily. Use glucosamine sulfate, not glucosamine hydrochloride or N-acetylglucosamine. It's often paired with chondroitin sulfate, but the latter is poorly absorbed and not worth the extra expense.
ALERT! There are rare occurrences of stomach upset.