The many supplements available in the marketplace should not be seen as replacements for a healthy diet or exercise program, but rather to meet specific needs. Below is a list of 20 supplements that may be useful for active individuals keen on maintaining health or achieving sports or fitness goals.

Be sure to educate yourself on appropriate dosing and contraindications, depending on your heath status and reasons for usage.

Twenty top health and fitness supplements:

1. Omega 3 (fish oil): An essential fat necessary for many of the body’s normal functions. Omega 3 may also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and assist in controlling inflammation in some conditions.

2. Vitamin D: Recent research has shown that the “sunshine vitamin” may significantly reduce the risk of developing some types of cancer, including breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

3. Multivitamin: With the over-processing of many of the foods in our present-day diets, a multivitamin is a good way to ensure that we get a base level of many of the nutrients our bodies need, especially for physically active individuals.

4. Flax seed: A source of fiber and omega-3, flax seed may help to reduce arterial plaque formation in cardiovascular disease, as well as reducing incidence of diabetes and some types of cancer.

5. BCAA’s: Branched chain amino acids can be supplemented by individuals engaged in exercise, whether to build muscle or lose fat. Added to a post-workout shake, they assist with recovery and new muscle growth. As part of a calorie-restricted diet, they can help to preserve muscle and improve overall body composition.

6. Green food supplements: Many of the phytonutrients found in vegetables and fruits are not present in a standard multivitamin or the average poor diet. Supplementing with a teaspoon of greens each day is a way to ensure we ingest some of these healthful nutrients.

7. Protein supplement: A protein supplement (such as whey protein) can be added to a post-workout shake to assist in exercise recovery and maintenance or growth of new muscle. For post-workout, a fast-digesting protein (whey) is the best choice. During the day, a slower-digesting protein (casein) may be best to reduce appetite while preserving muscle.

8. Vitamin C: Daily supplementation with vitamin C can enhance exercise recovery and reduce suppression of our immune system by significantly reducing post-workout stress hormones.

9. Cissus quadrangularis: A herb common in East Indian medicine, cissus has been shown in research to accelerate bone repair after fracture. Recently it has received rave reviews from fitness enthusiasts for reducing the pain and accelerating healing in chronic tendon and ligament injury.

10. Coleus forskholii: At proper dosages coleus has been shown to increase the utilization of fat as a fuel source during weight loss, while reducing the use of muscle protein for fuel. In research this has resulted in a significant improvement in body composition in male subjects.

11. PGX/Glucomannon: A soluble fiber supplement that has been shown to be beneficial in reducing high blood cholesterol, controlling blood sugar and managing appetite.

12. Glucosamine and chondroitin: Taken together, glucosamine and chondroitin may assist in slowing the progression of degenerative joint changes in some individuals.

13. EGCG: Green tea has been demonstrated to be useful for its mild metabolic boost, and antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties.

14. Glutamine: Supplementation with this amino acid may enhance recovery and support the immune system during periods of intense training or following an athletic performance.

15. Theanine: An amino acid extracted from green tea, it has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress without causing sedation. It achieves this by increasing the brain’s alpha waves (those associated with relaxed alertness).

16. CLA: Conjugated linoleic acid is a dietary fat that may help prevent weight gain from occasional periods of overeating. It may also be useful following a period of dieting to prevent rapid return of body fat.

17. HCP: Hydrolyzed collagen protein may help to reduce the symptoms of sprains and strains by providing raw materials for collagen formation.

18. Banaba leaf: A plant extract that may help to control blood sugar fluctuations, which in turn can assist in appetite control and weight loss.

19. Calcium: Particularly important for women, calcium plays an important role in maintaining strong bones and helping to reduce osteoporosis.

20. Zinc: Particularly important for men, zinc is important for maintenance of sperm health and prostate health as well as for maintaining normal testosterone levels.

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