• Dr Kendra Clifford ND

My 8 Favourite Supplements for Swimmers

Whether swimming competitively, or. recreationally, there are a number of supplements that can help with performance and recovery.


  1. Creatine: a naturally occurring amino acid found in the muscles of most vertebrates. Here it helps recycle ATP (adenosine triphosphate) a molecule that provides energy to our cells. In cases of short term, high intensity exercise creatine has been shown to increase physical performance.

  2. BCAA's: branch chain amino acids are the essential (can't be made by the body) amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. When we exercise we create tiny little tears in our muscles which need to be repaired. BCAA's help stimulate muscle protein synthesis which in turn speeds up repair and recovery. Studies have shown that those taking BCAA's have lower levels of creatinine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase (markers of muscle damage).

  3. Whey Protein: they liquid byproduct of making cheese (think little miss muffet - sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey). Whey is an easily digested protein that is quickly absorbed. Some of the amino acids included in whey protein are the BCAA's from above! This helps repair and grow the muscles.

If you are a competitive swimmer always make sure to see your Naturopathic Doctor prior to taking supplements. There are many compounds that are banned in competitive sports. Your Naturopathic Doctor can help you find supplements that are allowed in your competitions.

Even recreational swimmers can experience muscle soreness, or common swimming injuries. There are a number of supplements that can hasten the recovery process.


  1. Probiotics: if your digestive system is not working optimally than it may take more time to repair your muscles and tissues. This delay can result in an increase in systemic inflammation. Systemic inflammation may manifest as increased muscle soreness, fatigue, and even an increase in injuries.

  2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids: The standard North American diet has a skewed ratio of omega 6 fatty acids (found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds) to omega 3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish including salmon, mackerel, and sardines). This skewed ratio results in higher levels of systemic inflammation. By increasing the intake of omega 3 fatty acids we can reduce inflammation, improve bone repair, and reduce muscle soreness.

  3. Curcumin: many people have heard about using curcumin (turmeric) for long term degenerative conditions such as arthritis, but it can also be used to help relieve pain and swelling due to injury.

  4. Vitamin C: Research is mixed with regards to vitamin C and sport performance/recovery. Many people associate vitamin C with citrus fruits including oranges, lemons, and limes, but the highest amounts of vitamin C are found in:

chili peppers, guavas, sweet yellow peppers, black currants and many other fruits. Vitamin C can reduce muscle soreness in the short term, but taking it on a long term basis can reduce the body's ability to use oxygen.

5. Magnesium: I have saved the best for last! This is one of my all time favourite supplements for a number of conditions! The standard North American diet is typically lacking in dark leafy green vegetables - the very ones that contain magnesium. These include spinach, swiss chard, kale, and others. Magnesium is required by the body to complete protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control and many other bodily functions. Magnesium can relax sore muscles, and reduce fatigue, therefore allowing you to recover more quickly.

As always if you are a competitive athlete please see your Naturopathic Doctor prior to taking any supplements. Some sports don't allow certain supplements, or certain dosages. Your Naturopathic Doctor can help you understand what is best for you,

This post is intended as information only and should not be substituted for medical advice. Please see your Naturopathic Doctor.



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