Supplements For Young Dancers

I have read a lot about athletes taking extra multi-vitamins, protein and calcium. Should my daughter be taking any supplements?

Ideally, a dancer should be able to get all the vitamins and minerals she needs from her diet. However, sometimes, whether due to food intolerances, preferences or seasonal variations, she may not be getting all of the nutrients she needs from foods. Any supplementation should be on top of a balanced diet, and not be taken to replace one. They should always be prescribed by a qualified health professional, such as a Naturopath, Dietitian or General Practitioner with a special interest in nutrition. Obtaining supplements from a professional source such as this is important, as there are many different standards in the production of supplements, and the processes used may alter the quality and availability of the nutrient in question.

Some nutrients, such as vitamin C can be taken in larger quantities, as the body is capable of excreting any excess. However, some other minerals may accumulate in the body if taken excessively, and may cause more problems than were there initially. Especially when monitoring the levels of trace minerals. Many athletes and body builders use protein replacement drinks and powders to refuel their body with the amino-acids needed to rebuild the micro tears in their muscles after training. While we don’t want dancers to be building bulky muscles, protein replacement may actually be a beneficial step to take to help avoid injury. The training process in dancers is completely different than weight training, with the focus being on repetitive exercises to lengthen muscles and develop fluidity, rather than to build bulk. However, this still results in slight damage to some muscle fibers in each training session that must heal quickly to avoid chronic injuries developing. Replacement of the essential aminoacids after training may help repair these fibers, while consuming foods that contain vitamin C and E will help avoid post exercise muscle soreness. Many protein drinks have too many “fillers” that may make the dancer feel too full. Instead, I would recommend using an isolated amino-acid complex such as the Musashi BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids) or similar products, which provide the protein, but not the weight.

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