The concept of improving our athletic prowess through the practice of sports nutrition is actually a very old practice. From the first time humans started recording their history sports nutrition, primarily through the ingestion of appropriating foods, was an important part of succeeding at athletic endeavors. The earliest humans in various parts of the globe used foods and other products to help improve their strength, flexibility, agility, speed and general sports abilities.
During medieval times physicians actually encouraged their patients to consume a human heart as part of their physical sports regime. This practice, though of course hampered by the inability to easily obtain an available human heart, was nevertheless thought to increase the athlete’s bravery as well as her or his intelligence. It was the pituitary glands, extracts of that human heart, that physicians of that time period thought enhanced the strength of the sports enthusiasts’ muscles.
Mushrooms were a staple of any athlete’s regime of preparation for sports as far back as 300 BC. In ancient Greece those preparing for the Olympics ate mushrooms avidly. In the Netherlands in the 19th century commonly focused on their swimming ability, and to enhance this they regularly consumed great amounts of caffeine. During this same time period – the 1800’s – athletes in Belgium dipped sugar cubes in ether and then ate them. This was thought to give them great agility and strength. Marathon runners at that time, however, focused on drinking their cactus. Cactus was the 19th century Gatorade, though at that time electrolytes were not even thought of.
Of course, sports and athletic supplements and the consumption of foods especially made to enhance physical prowess and athletic ability are commonplace in the 21st century. Dietary supplements not only for athletes but for folks just trying to live long and healthy lives are found everywhere. You can pick up a sports drink, a vitamin supplement, an herb to cure whatever ails you, as well as weight loss and herbal stop-smoking products at health food stores, pharmacies, supercenters, supermarkets, through direct mail catalogs and at so many sites on the Internet. Over 40 percent of the population of the world consumes dietary supplements on a regular basis, either for sports, for preventative measures, for cure or control of diseases or just for optimum well being. 59 percent of the globe’s professional athletes take dietary supplements to enhance their agility and sports capabilities, and 43 percent of amateur and collegiate athletes do so as well.
While there are a number of dietary supplements available such as protein shakes and herbs, the most common supplement for those concentrating on their sports nutrition is with a daily intake of vitamins and minerals. The most common of these are B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, iron, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin E. Not only do these professionals and amateur athletes take supplements to excel at sports. They also want to recover from their strenuous workouts quickly and ward off any injury or illness that could be the result of overexerting themselves.