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The Best Supplements for Triathletes

By Martin Hughes

Numerous supplements may be beneficial for triathletes. According to the Cleveland Clinic Health System, proper nutrition is important before, during and after a triathlon event or season of competition. If you are a triathlete, you may benefit most from a healthy, well-balanced diet and plenty of rest and recovery between bouts of training. However, certain dietary supplements may help speed your recovery between races and help build your strength and exercise capacity. Before taking supplements, meet with your doctor to discuss possible side effects and proper dosage.

Bromelain

Bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme, is an important supplement for triathletes. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC, bromelain is a mixture of protein-digesting, or proteolytic, enzymes found in pineapples. Bromelain is derived from the stem and juice of the pineapple. Pineapple has been used for centuries in Central and South America to treat health problems, including indigestion and inflammation. The UMMC states that bromelain may be useful in treating a wide range of conditions, but it is most effective for reducing infection- and injury-related inflammation. Despite studies showing mixed results, if you have been injured while competing in sports such as triathlon -- or if you have had surgery to correct a musculoskeletal problem -- bromelain may reduce your swelling, bruising, healing time and pain. Before taking bromelain for your triathlon-related injuries, consult with your physician for proper dosage and possible side effects.

Goji

Goji, also known as Lycium barbarum, may be an effective supplement for triathletes. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, or MSKCC, states that the berries of Lycium barbarum, or goji berries, are used in traditional medicine to treat numerous health problems, including inflammation, skin irritation, nosebleeds and muscle aches and pains. Goji may also help treat anemia, burns, cough, skin infections and poor vision. According to the MSKCC, the constituents responsible for goji's beneficial health effects are betasitosterol, polysaccharides and cerebrosides. If you are a triathlete, goji supplementation may help reduce your oxidative stress by eliminating free radicals. A 2008 study by Ai-jun Niu and colleagues published in the "International Journal of Biological Macromolecules" states that consumption of goji polysaccharides can significantly decrease the oxidative stress induced by exhaustive exercise in rats. Before taking goji supplements, meet with your doctor to discuss possible side effects and proper dosage.

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Protein Powder

Protein powder, especially organic protein powder, may be a beneficial supplement for triathletes. According to a 2000 article by Robert W. Wolfe published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," active individuals, including triathletes, may consume protein supplements to promote muscle strength and function. If you are a triathlete, consuming a high quality protein powder may help you stay strong and healthy before, during and after your competitive season. Wolfe states that the stimulatory effect of amino acids on muscle protein synthesis is greater immediately after exercise than amino acids consumed while at rest, which suggests that the timing of protein supplementation is equally important as the quality of the protein powder consumed. Before taking protein powder as a dietary supplement, consult with your physician about proper dosage and possible side effects.

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