yourbody | WHAT DANCERS EAT
In a perfect world, dancers would get all the
nutrients they need from hearty, healthy (and
delicious!) meals. “Food is where vitamins,
minerals and antioxidants are in their most
natural form and can be best used by the
body,” says Kelly Hogan, MS, RD, CDN,
clinical nutrition and wellness manager at
the Dubin Breast Center of the Mount Sinai
But for dancers who are asking so much
of their bodies but might be watching calories,
even a relatively healthy diet doesn’t necessarily mean you’re fueling your body for optimal
performance. Adding a supplement or vitamin
to your regimen could give you the boost
you’ve been missing. But which should you
consider to complete your nutrition plan?
Just like prescription medications, supplements are pretty personal. Visit your doctor
or a registered dietitian before starting a new
regimen, since every dancer has different
needs. But there are a few safe bets for most
Calcium: Young female dancers especially need
adequate calcium to support bone growth.
Vitamin D: Because vitamin D requires fat for
absorption, dancers who may be limit-
ing fat intake will be less likely to use the
vitamin D they’re getting from food, says
Kim Hoban, RD, nutrition coach.
Iron: This mineral helps transport oxygen to
muscles, organs and tissues. “Vegetarians
may want to talk to their doctor or dietitian about being tested for anemia and the
need for iron supplementation, especially
if they’re feeling frequent fatigue or weakness,” says Hogan.
Magnesium and potassium: Both are involved
in energy metabolism as well as muscle and
Turmeric: You can use this anti-in;ammatory
superhero as a spice when cooking, or get
it as a supplement.
Could Be Helpful
These buzzy options have been all the rage
lately, but not all of them are totally necessary.
Vitamin C: Since vitamin C is crucial for muscle repair and absorption of iron, consider
a supplement if you’re not getting enough
from citrusy superfoods, says Lauren Slay-ton, RD, founder of Foodtrainers.
Omega-3s: These fatty acids may protect the
heart, combat in;ammation and even play
a role in mental health. But Hoban says
omega-3s work best when you get them
from sources like avocados, nuts, seeds,
fatty ;sh or oils.
Probiotics: Building healthy gut bacteria can
help boost immune function and improve
digestive health. (Side effects when you’re
new to probiotics may include mild gas or
bloating, Hoban warns.)
Collagen peptides: A pure source of protein,
collagen is great for bone, joint and skin
health, and promotes healthy digestion.
These come in protein powder or dissolv-
ing gelatin form.
Don’t Waste Your Money
Step away from the magic potions!
Energy enhancers: Most of these boost energy
through an excessive amount of caffeine,
says Hogan. Doses this high could have
harmful health effects, like jitteriness,
nervousness, dif;culty concentrating and
Anything that claims to act as medication:
Supplements that boast a claim that sounds
too good to be true usually are. ■
Your cheat sheet to the
to get extra nutrients
beyond your daily diet
BY ALISON FELLER
Everything in Moderation
Pumping your body with loads of nutrients
may seem like a good idea, but that can have
the opposite effect. “When added together,
all these different supplements could contain
toxic amounts,” says Kelly Hogan. A doctor or
registered dietitian will be able to recommend
the best mix for your needs.
Supplements are not well regulated by the
Food and Drug Administration, so what’s listed
on the label isn’t always what’s in the bottle.
Look for a brand with a third-party certification—like USP (United States Pharmacopeial
Convention), NSF International or Consum-erLab.com. “Third-party certification makes
sure the vitamin has what it says it has and that
there are no contaminants, toxicants or unlabeled substances,” says Kelly Hogan.
vitamins should never be
taken in lieu of food. Think
about dietary supplements as
just that—supplements to
a healthy, nutrient-
• turmeric curcumin
• vitamin D
• collagen powder
• flaxseed oil and chia
seeds (added to salads
and sometimes cereals
or lactose-free yogurt)