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Calcium plays a vital role in our bone structure and function and can be especially important for those who have a history of or may be at risk of bone related injuries. Athletes should aim to consume the RDA (1000 mg) of calcium to support bone health. Some calcium rich food sources include dairy products, tofu, edamame, chia seeds, canned salmon, and fortified non-dairy beverages.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is needed for calcium regulation and bone health but also is involved in skeletal muscle function and immune regulation. Insufficient levels of vitamin D may inhibit recovery from an injury. An individual may require supplementation if they are deficient in vitamin D, but levels should be assessed and discussed with a physician or dietitian before a supplement is started. Athletes should aim to consume foods rich in vitamin D to maintain sufficient levels. Foods rich in vitamin D include fish, egg yolks, cheese, fortified cereals and fruit juices.

Dietary Supplements

Here are a few dietary supplements that have evidence to show they may positively impact the recovery process. It is important to note that no dietary supplement will better support recovery than consuming a diet that meets your energy, macronutrient, and micronutrient needs. An athlete should always work with a sports dietitian when considering a dietary supplement to ensure safety and effectiveness.


Creatine is a molecule naturally produced in the body and a majority is stored in your body’s muscles as phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine is used to fuel short, high intensity exercise. It is one of the most highly researched ergogenic aids and there is evidence to show it can improve high intensity exercise and positively impact lean muscle mass. Creatine may help preserve lean muscle mass during immobilization and help stimulate muscle growth during rehabilitative strength training.

If an athlete is interested in supplementing with creatine, it is important to choose a product that holds NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Sport certifications to ensure safety of the product. For more on creatine, read this article.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)

As previously mentioned, omega-3 fatty acids have a strong anti-inflammatory effect and can help reduce chronic inflammation caused by injury. There are three primary omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), eicosapenaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It may be difficult for some athletes to consume the recommended 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily, and supplementation may help obtain that amount. There is inconsistent data in the literature, but omega-3s may also help reduce muscle loss during injury and immobilization.

Essential Amino Acids (EAAs)

EAAs are a way to provide essential amino acids that can be quickly absorbed and utilized by the muscle. This can produce a greater anabolic response than protein from dietary sources or whey protein supplements because it is a more concentrated and readily available form. There is evidence to show that consuming EAAs can help preserve lean muscle mass. EAAs should not replace consuming high-quality, whole-food sources of protein.

Article by: Dana Norris, MS, RD, Eleat Nutrition Intern

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