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Level up your game: 10 supplements for E-sport players

Publications 1 March 2023 No Comments

Electronic sports (or “esports” for short) is a term that refers to competitive video gaming. Esports tournaments often attract players and teams from all around the world, and the prize pool can be a significant incentive for them to compete at a high level. In addition to the prize money, players and teams can also earn sponsorships, merchandise sales, and other forms of revenue from their success in esports. Therefore, it is not surprising that professional esports players spend many hours each day practicing, studying the game, and strategizing with their teammates. To perform their best, some gamers decide to take ergogenic substances, like dietary supplements or psychostimulants.

Games and supplements?

There is little proof that using specific drugs may enhance gaming performance. Although esports players may not need to take supplements, there are three key areas where they might benefit:

  •  Eye protection

For esports athletes, eye health is crucial because prolonged screen time can cause eye strain, dry eyes, and other related symptoms. The most demanding challenge for eye health is focusing on a single visual task. An example of a game that requires such mental skills is Counter-Strike, where cyberathletes should be able to aim precisely most of the time. Additionally, gamers also need to boost or at least support level of visual acuity, night vision, contrast sensitivity, eye-tracking, depth perception glare and flash recovery, dark adaptation as well as ocular signaling speed. As you can see, the list is pretty broad.

  • Cognitive skills boosting

Cognitive skills in esports refer to the mental abilities of players that may contribute to their success in competitive gaming. These skills include focus, attention, perception, memory and decision-making. Developing and maintaining strong cognitive skills is important for any esports player, as it can give them an advantage over their opponents in high-pressure situations. Reaction time in esports is a speed at which a player can respond to visual stimuli in an online gaming scenario. A quick reaction time is crucial in many fast-paced esports games such as first-person shooters and real-time strategy games. It is determined by a player’s hand-eye coordination, decision-making skills, and overall reflexes.

  •  Energy boosting and fatigue level reduction

Fatigue is a common issue faced by esports players, especially during prolonged gaming sessions. Sometimes routine gaming “workout” can last up to 12 hours daily, and that leaves a lot of mental load in the mind of an individual. And don’t forget that sitting position that is typical for gamers is likely to cause physical fatigue as well, especially in neck muscles. Interestingly enough, there are many chairs on the market that are designed specifically for gamers. So, getting a nice and comfy seat might be a brilliant idea to reduce muscle strains.

Some noteworthy examples

Here are some of the supplements which could potentially affect esports performance in different ways. Effects can vary greatly due to individual variation in response.

  1.   Caffeine

Caffeine is a natural stimulant that can improve focus, alertness, concentration, and reaction time by inhibiting the activity of adenosine, a compound that, in general, accumulates in the brain during the day and causes drowsiness in the evening. However, keep in mind that caffeine is a stimulant, so it makes the body more active, and has been found to cause side effects such as increased heart rate, jitters, and poor sleep quality. Nevertheless, it seems to be particularly effective for mental abilities. There is a study on the influence of caffeine with the participation of professional esport players. Their hit accuracy and reaction time were significantly increased after caffeine intake in dosage 3 mg per kg of body weight compared to baseline. The typical dose for cognitive performance is about 1–4 mg/kg of body weight taken 45 minutes before the game.

  1.   L-theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid found naturally in tea leaves that has been used as a dietary supplement due to its potential benefits for mental and physical health. According to some studies, it may help improve focus, attention, and cognitive functioning, which, of course, could be beneficial for esports players. It has been demonstrated to have a calming effect on the brain and may aid in the reduction of stress and anxiety. According to researchers, l-theanine can boost the effects of certain brainwave states, such as alpha waves, which are associated with a relaxed and focused state of mind. 

To maximize the cognitive properties, it is recommended to take 250-300 mg of l-theanine with caffeine 45 minutes before activity. Taken together, l-theanine inhibits the overstimulating effect of caffeine and gives users a high alertness state.

  1.   N-acetyl-L-tyrosine (NALT)

Tyrosine is an amino acid that the body uses to make proteins as well as neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. Tyrosine supplements are used by gamers to improve mental clarity and focus, and it is sometimes marketed as a way to improve cognitive performance. N-acetyl-L-tyrosine is an acetylated form of the amino acid L-tyrosine. It is more water soluble than L-tyrosine and thus seems to be a more functional form for use in liquid state.

The nootropic NALT has been shown to boost cognitive ability during high-stress situations including military combat training exercises, so it could be very useful in crucial moments of the game. To achieve the maximal effect, it is recommended to take 500-1500 mg of NALT 20-30 minutes before the intense effort.

  1.   B-complex

B-vitamin complex is a mix of necessary, water-soluble vitamins with key functions in the production of neurotransmitters as well as signaling molecules, and the key processes regulating metabolism. B-complex vitamins, notably B12 and B6, may enhance energy levels and cognitive function in relation to esports, which may be advantageous for players. To emphasize their importance, this group of vitamins is engaged in more than 20% of processes related to metabolism.

In general, b-complex formulas available on the market are usually well-developed in regards to vitamin dosage. When looking for a b-complex, choose formulas with activated (methylated) forms of vitamins. It is best taken daily in the morning.

  1.   Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is required for many physiological processes, including muscle function, energy metabolism, and the immune system condition. In addition to that, magnesium is necessary for neuromuscular coordination and optimal signal transmission in the nervous system. All in all, this element is essential for overall health and performance, so it will be definitely crucial for gamers as well.

Esports athletes who spend long periods of time sitting and staring at screens are at risk of magnesium deficiency, which can cause a variety of symptoms such as fatigue, muscle cramps, and poor concentration. Including magnesium-rich foods in your diet, such as leafy greens, nuts, and whole grains, or taking a magnesium supplement, can help ensure that you get enough of this important mineral to support your health and performance.

There are several forms of magnesium available as dietary supplements, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. The most commonly used form of magnesium is citrate. But it mainly acts peripherally, influencing the muscles, so more “advanced” forms of magnesium, such a threonate, bisglycinate or taurate should be used to cross the brain-blood barrier and optimize brain functioning. The optimal dosage is estimated at 200-400 mg of elemental magnesium taken two times daily.

  1.   Lutein and Zeaxanthin

The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are popular supplements for gamers and esports competitors who spend a lot of time looking at screens as research suggests that they may be good for eye health. Besides that, these nutrients have been found to lessen oxidative stress, which can contribute to age-related macular degeneration and other eye issues. They can also protect the eyes from harmful blue light generated by digital screens. And healthy eyes are obviously crucial for preserving color perception and visual sharpness. Studies have revealed that the macula, the area of the retina responsible for crisp and detailed vision, contains a high concentration of these carotenoids.

It’s important to remember that lutein and zeaxanthin must be received through food that we eat or supplements because the body is unable to produce them. Some good sources of these nutrients include leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach, as well as eggs and corn. Typical recommended daily dosage is 10 mg for lutein and 2 mg for zeaxanthin.

  1.   Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is another carotenoid found in some marine organisms, such as algae, yeast, salmon, trout, krill, and seaweed. Just like lutein and zeaxanthin, astaxanthin helps to protect the eyes from damage caused by blue light and oxidative stress. It may also help enhance visual acuity and reduce eye fatigue. Some research has suggested that astaxanthin may help to improve contrast sensitivity and overall eye health. Additionally, research has shown that astaxanthin boosts intra-ocular blood flow, increasing oxygen and nutrient delivery.

Astaxanthin is available in supplement form, either alone or in combination with other eye-health ingredients. Generally, recommended dosage is 2-4 mg daily.

  1.   Taurine

Taurine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is often added to energy drinks. Taurine is involved in several important functions in the body, including the regulation of the nervous system. It is known to have a calming effect on the brain and can help to regulate the levels of neurotransmitters, such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and dopamine, that play a role in mood and behavior. Studies have shown that taurine supplementation may have a positive effect on conditions such as anxiety and depression. Taurine has also been demonstrated to have neuroprotective effects, suggesting that it may aid in preventing brain damage and promoting neuronal survival.

The blood-brain barrier is easily crossed by taurine, which also promotes the functioning of the hippocampus, potentially improving memory consolidation, motivation, and mental clarity. Additionally, it can be a helpful substance for preventing muscular cramps, which actually, may be a bothersome problem for gamers who hold a controller for extended periods of time.

Taurine supplements appear to work best when taken in amounts of 1,000 to 3,000 mg daily.

  1.   Creatine

Creatine as a dietary supplement is typically used by athletes to improve their physical performance. Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in the body that helps to supply energy to the muscles, particularly during high-intensity, short-duration activities such as weightlifting, sprinting, and… yes, you’ve probably guessed it – gaming.

Amazingly, studies have shown that supplementing with creatine can increase both the muscle and brain stores of phosphocreatine. After all, that chemical compound is important for supporting bioenergetics in the brain as well, leading to improved performance, increased vitality, and reduced fatigue during intense mental activity.

To maintain the high level of creatine in the body, it is recommended to take 3-5 grams of this supplement daily.

  1.   Alpha-GPC

Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline (Alpha-GPC) is a natural compound that is commonly used as a dietary supplement, particularly in the gaming and esports communities. Alpha-GPC is known to improve cognitive functioning, increase focus and alertness, but also to enhance physical performance.

Alpha-GPC is a source of choline, an essential nutrient that plays a key role in brain functioning and health. Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is involved in learning, memory, and other cognitive processes. Alpha-GPC has been shown to increase acetylcholine levels in the brain, which can lead to improved cognitive functions, memory, and mood. The effects of Alpha-GPC are backed up by scientific studies. The research indicates that game performance and self-reported feelings such as focus, vigor, and jitteriness were significantly improved.

The suggested dose for cognitive benefits is about 400-1200 mg per day. To maximize its effects, it is generally recommended to take 200-600 mg in the morning, and another 200-600 mg dose 15 – 30 minutes before mental activity.

The bottom line

The use of supplements in esports is a matter of personal choice and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Some cyberathletes may use supplements as part of their overall training and nutrition regimen to help enhance performance, reduce fatigue, or improve cognitive skills. The most efficient approach seems to be finding the best option through trial and error while paying attention to the potential side effects. Keep in mind that even though using substances during a competition might be tempting, we encourage all sportspeople, including gamers, to compete with a fair play attitude. And don’t forget about the basics. Getting enough sleep and giving your body time to rest are probably some of the most effective natural ways to feel refreshed and ready to compete!

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References

DiFrancisco-Donoghue J. et al., Managing the health of the Esport athlete: an
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Kimberl J. Esports enthusiasts target dietary supplements to up their game, Decker Nutritional Outlook, 2020

Kvansakul J. et al. Supplementation with the carotenoids lutein or zeaxanthin improves human visual performance. Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics,2006,

Mares J. Lutein and Zeaxanthin Isomers in Eye Health and Disease. Annu Rev Nutr. 2016

Otsuka T. et al. Astaxanthin Protects Against Retinal Damage: Evidence from In Vivo and In Vitro Retinal Ischemia and Reperfusion Models. Curr Eye Res. 2016

Sainz I. et al., Effect of acute caffeine intake on hit accuracy and reaction time in professional e-sports players. Physiol Behav, 2020

Szot M. et al., Can Nutrients and Dietary Supplements Potentially Improve Cognitive Performance Also in Esports? Healthcare, 2022.

Tartar J. et al. A prospective study evaluating the effects of a nutritional supplement intervention on cognition, mood states, and mental performance in video gamers. Nutrients, 2019

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https://best5supplements.com/vision/vision-supplements-gaming-esports/#Best-5-Vision-Supplements-for-Gaming-and-eSports

https://www.transparentlabs.com/blogs/all/best-nootropics-for-gaming-brain-supplements-increase-focus

Picture by DCStudio on Freepik.com

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