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A healthy diet is an important part of any fitness regime, especially as a dancer. No matter what your style of dance, you need to nourish your body with the right balance of nutrients in order to stay healthy, strong and with enough energy. If your diet is unbalanced or you’re lacking particular nutrients, you may start to feel slow, sluggish, or have other symptoms such as extreme fatigue, insomnia, constipation, diarrhoea, low blood pressure, nausea, etc. That’s why it’s so important to fuel your body with the right nutrients in your diet.

If you’re a pole dancer or practice any other form of high impact aerial or gymnastic exercise, then your diet will have a direct impact on your progress.

Pole dancing, in particular, is a full-body workout. It requires physical strength, flexibility, mental awareness and lots of energy. If you have a poor diet then you’ll definitely notice your progress being slow compared to someone with a healthy diet.

Find out what pole dancing really does to your body here (opens in a new tab)

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am a fitness instructor. If you’re unsure whether taking a particular vitamin or dietary supplement is right for you, then speak to a healthcare professional. Don’t ask Dr Google for advice!!

Nutrition for Dancers: About Vitamin Supplements

Should dancers take vitamin supplements? Health information about dietary supplements for dancers to live a healthy lifestyle



Before we discuss the different vitamins that provide beneficial nutrients for dancers, let’s think about whether you really genuinely need to take vitamin supplements, or whether incorporating certain foods into your diet will be better in the long run.

Are Vitamin Supplements Necessary?

If you have a balanced diet, then probably not. But, if you’ve been diagnosed with a deficiency, for example, Iron deficiency (anaemia) then your doctor will prescribe you dietary supplements to treat this. If you’ve ever taken Iron pills, then you’ll know that they come with side effects, such as bloating or constipation. Other vitamins and dietary supplements have side effects too.

What about Multivitamins?

The thing with multivitamins is that they have a standard dose of loads of different vitamins and minerals. Some vitamins are water-soluble (like B Vitamins) but most others are stored in fat cells, if you have too much of a certain vitamin or mineral in your system then you may notice some unwanted side effects.

If you do choose to take vitamin or dietary supplements, then choose the ones which you need to take extra of, until you’ve been able to fully incorporate foods that contain it into your diet.

Common Vitamins for Dancers to Take

Vitamin supplements

Here are some of the most common vitamins that female dancers take as part of their daily health routine.

Iron

Iron is essential for blood cells to carry oxygen around our body. An iron deficiency can be serious. Women are more likely to become anaemic due to having monthly periods, that’s why many birth control pills contain iron supplements towards the end of the packet. If you don’t have enough iron, then your blood cannot make enough red blood cells to carry oxygen around your body.

Signs of Iron deficiency

If you have an Iron deficiency, you may be suffering from at least one of these symptoms:

  • General fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath

Foods that contain Iron

If you think you may have an Iron deficiency, seek medical advice and try adding more of these foods into your diet:

  • Red meats
  • Spinach
  • Fish
  • Tofu
  • Eggs
  • Pulses
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Beans
  • Whole grains

Iron Supplements

It can take some time for your body to restore its Iron stores. While you’re improving your diet, you may wish to take supplements to ease some of the symptoms. If a healthcare professional has said that it’s safe for your to take Iron pills, then you can buy some online or in any chemist or food store.

Always read what the label says and take the pills with food.


Calcium

Calcium is the most common mineral in our bodies – our bones are made from Calcium! It’s therefore so important to get lots of calcium in our diets to maintain healthy bones. If you have a calcium deficiency you’re at a higher risk of breaking bones, so you should seek medical advice as soon as possible. You can’t be a dancer without healthy bones!

Signs of Calcium deficiency

If you have a Calcium deficiency, you may be suffering from at least one of these symptoms:

  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Brittle and weak fingernails
  • Tingling hands, feet, or face
  • Muscle spasms

Foods that contain Calcium

If you think you may have a Calcium deficiency, seek advice from a healthcare professional and try adding more of these foods into your diet:

  • Cheese
  • Seeds
  • Yogurt
  • Lentils
  • Almonds
  • Beans
  • Sardines

Calcium Supplements

While you’re improving your diet, you may wish to take supplements to ease some of the symptoms. If a healthcare professional has said that it’s safe for your to take Calcium supplements, then you’ll be able to buy some in a store or online.

Always read what the label says and take the pills with food.


Magnesium

Magnesium is important for our diets as dancers as we need magnesium for healthy muscles and to maintain our energy levels. If you have a magnesium deficiency, it can be serious causing calcification or the arteries.

Signs of Magnesium deficiency

If you have a Magnesium deficiency, you may be suffering from one or more of these symptoms:

  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sleep problems
  • Low energy levels
  • Feeling “hormonal”

Foods that contain Magnesium

If you think you may have a Magnesium deficiency, seek advice from a healthcare professional and try adding more of these foods into your diet:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Seeds (pumpkins seeds in particular)

Magnesium Supplements

While you’re improving your diet, you may wish to take supplements to ease some of the symptoms. If a healthcare professional has said that it’s safe for your to take Magnesium supplements, then you’ll be able to buy some in a store or online.

Always read what the label says and take the pills with food.




Vitamin D

Vitamin D is commonly known as the sunshine vitamin! That’s because our primary source of Vitamin D is from sunlight! Vitamin D deficiency can become very serious as it can cause bone loss, osteoarthritis and serious mobility issues.

Signs of Vitamin D deficiency

If you have a Vitamin D deficiency, you may be suffering from at least one of these symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Back pain
  • Joint pain
  • Depression
  • Muscle aches & pains
  • Hair Loss

Foods that contain Vitamin D

If you think you may have a Vitamin D deficiency, seek medical advice and try adding more of these foods into your diet:

  • Tuna in water
  • Sardines in oil
  • Egg yolks
  • Cheese

As well as this, try to spend some time outdoors. Even if it’s winter, try to get at least 20 minutes of daylight every single day. More time spent outdoors is better as we get Vitamin D from sunlight more so than in our diets.

Vitamin D Supplements

While you’re improving your diet and getting more sunlight, you may wish to take supplements to ease some of the symptoms. If a healthcare professional has said that it’s safe for you to take Vitamin D supplements, then you’ll be able to buy some in a store or online.

Vitamin D Supplements are commonly found in multivitamins of Calcium & Vitamin D combined, this is because they work very well together.

Always read what the label says and take the pills with food.

Sun setting behind a building

Sunshine is the best source of Vitamin D for healthy bones


Evening Primrose Oil

Evening Primrose Oil is not a vitamin, nor a mineral, but it gives beneficial nutrition for dancers, female dancers in particular. What makes Evening Primrose Oil important is that it contains Omega 3 and Omega 6. Omega 6 is particularly hard to get enough of with dieting alone. Evening Primrose Oil contains Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) which our body converts into hormone regulators.

It has massive benefits for women who suffer from PMT or any hormonal symptoms during ovulation, your period, menopause or pregnancy. Many dancers find dancing immediately before, or during their period especially challenging. It can be very disconcerting to be dealing with cramps, bloating and tiredness as it can affect your motivation and ability to workout or practice.

Evening Primrose Oil will help regulate your hormones as well as give you a healthy dose of Omega 3 and 6, which is good for the health of your heart.

Symptoms of Omega 6 Deficiency

Here are some of the symptoms of Omega 6 Deficiency:

  • Very dry or patchy skin
  • Dull looking skin
  • Dry, flakey fingertips and soles of your feet
  • Small bumps on the back of your arms

Symptoms of PMT

Here are some common symptoms of PMT, that Evening Primrose Oil can help prevent:

  • Bloating & water retention
  • Hot flashes
  • Night Sweats
  • Emotional or angry
  • Changes in your appetite
  • Changes to your sleep pattern
  • Tender breasts
  • Muscle cramps
Woman drinking from a mug looking at nature

With PMT, you just need to make some time for yourself sometimes!

Other sources of Omega 3 & 6

Omega 3 and 6 are present in other natural foods, such as:

  • Vegetable Oils
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Whole Grains
  • Sesame Seeds

Other foods to help regulate hormones

  • Tofu
  • Avocados
  • Brocolli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Asparagus
  • Watercress
  • Melon

You should also avoid caffeine, sugary drinks or sodas, alcohol and spicy food as these will all add to your hormonal imbalance and make it feel even worse!

Evening Primrose Oil Supplements

While you’re improving your diet, you may wish to take supplements to ease some of the symptoms. If a healthcare professional has said that it’s safe for your to take Evening Primrose Oil supplements, then you’ll be able to buy some in a store or online.

Always read what the label says and take the pills with food.


B Complex (B vitamins)

There are many different B Vitamins in this family of vitamins, such as B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6,  B7 (biotin), B12 and Folic acid. Together, these water-soluble vitamins play a vital role in our bodies’ functions. If you’re lacking B Vitamins, then you’re at risk of getting unwell and feeling fatigued during day-to-day life.

B Complex is the name given to this group of 8 vitamins.

Signs of B Vitamin deficiency

If you are B-Vitamin deficient, you may be suffering from at least one of these symptoms:

  • Aggression
  • Insomnia
  • Tiredness
  • Skin rash
  • Mental Confusion

Foods that contain B Vitamins

If you think you are low on B Vitamins, seek medical advice and try adding more of these particular foods into your diet:

  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Wholegrains
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables
  • Fish
  • Soya beans

B Complex Supplements

While you’re improving your diet, you may wish to take supplements to ease some of the symptoms. If a healthcare professional has said that it’s safe for your to take B Complex supplements, then you’ll be able to buy some in a store or online.

Always read what the label says and take the pills with food.

B Complex supplements are pretty safe as B vitamins are mostly water-soluble, this means that your body doesn’t store B vitamins for the long-term – it uses what it needs and the rest is passed out of the body through the kidneys and bladder. You will see that some B Complex supplements have 2,000% of our recommended daily allowance of B Vitamins – that can’t be right, surely?!

If you take excess amounts of B vitamins (within reason, of course – don’t exceed the stated dose) then the unused vitamins will simply leave your body when you go to the toilet! However, one of the vitamins in B Complex does cause your pee to change to a bright color! If you’ve ever taken ‘Berocca’ then this will have probably happened to you!

Pro tip: If you’re ever super hungover then B Vitamins are great! If you can remember to take them before you go out drinking as well then it’s even better!



Zinc

We need zinc in our diets to fight off bacteria, zinc is also necessary for the body to create proteins. If you have a zinc deficiency, then your body isn’t able to heal as fast as it should. If you get any bruises, aches or pains from your pole dance workout then these may take longer to heal.

Signs of Zinc deficiency

If you have a zinc deficiency, you may be suffering from at least one of these symptoms:

  • Skin rash
  • Hair loss
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Mental slowness
  • Lack of muscle growth

Foods that contain Zinc

If you think you may have a zinc deficiency, seek medical advice and try adding more of these foods into your diet:

  • Oysters
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Toasted Wheatgerm
  • Dark chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Beans

Zinc Supplements

While you’re improving your diet, you may wish to take supplements to ease some of the symptoms. If a healthcare professional has said that it’s safe for your to take Zinc supplements, then you’ll be able to buy some in a store or online.

Always read what the label says and take the pills with food.


Tips for Buying, Storing & Taking Vitamin Supplements

  1. Only buy vitamins and dietary supplements from a reputable retailer.
  2. Make sure that you’re not paying too much – some stores and chemists charge really high prices for dietary supplements when they’re often much cheaper online.
  3. When you get your bottles of vitamins, check the seals. The seal on the bottle lips should be intact and not broken or tampered with in any way.
  4. Check the expiry dates. You should check the expiry date and safely dispose of any expired vitamins and dietary supplements as they may not be effective after they’ve expired.
  5. Store all your supplements in a cool, dark place. Some vitamins and supplements (especially those that have oil in them) will go bad if they’re stored somewhere warm, such as a window ledge. Instead, keep them in a drawer or cupboard away from direct sunlight.
  6. Keep bottles away from children. To a small child, pill bottles, even vitamins, will look like candy or a game to open and eat them – this is obviously very dangerous, so keep them in a safe place.
  7. Don’t crush pills or cut them in half. When pills are pressed, they’re designed to dissolve slowly in your stomach. If you crush or cut them then they may have an undesired effect, dissolving too quickly and giving you an upset stomach!
  8. Always take vitamin supplements with food. You should take vitamins with food because you’re supposed to be getting them in your diet! At the very least, trick your body into thinking it’s getting extra nutrients with your meals when in actual fact it’s a supplement!
  9. Set daily reminders on your phone to take your vitamins. If you have a busy lifestyle, it’s very easy to forget! So set yourself an alarm to remind yourself to take your vitamins.
  10. Always read the label and seek advice if you’re concerned about taking a particular vitamin or dietary supplement. Speak to a qualified doctor or healthcare professional who will be able to answer your concerns.
  11. Keep your vitamins in their original containers or packaging. You may forget what the pills are, or what they’re for. If you travel on planes then you’ll need to keep the original packaging for inspection.

 

Oil Capules

Capsules that contain oils need to be kept in an opaque bottle to stop the contents going rancid.




Conclusion (TL;DR?)

It’s very easy to read a list of symptoms online for a particular health problem, relate to absolutely everything, and say “Yep. That’s me!” When in reality your symptoms could be caused by a number of things. Tiredness, anxiety or sleep problems could have a number of different causes. Generally, improving your diet will improve some of these symptoms but it’s still important that you seek medical advice from a doctor before making any drastic changes to your lifestyle.

Dancers, pole dancers and aerial performers need good nourishment in order to get the most from their bodies.

Vitamin supplements are useful if you have a deficiency, pre-existing condition or as a temporary measure. The ideal long-term solution for a healthy adult is to have a healthy diet and only take vitamin/dietary supplements if necessary.


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Happy Poling!

Nutrition for Dancers: Should you take vitamin supplements? Dietary information for healthy lifestyles

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