By Richard Firshein, published on May 1, 1998 - last reviewed on June 13, 2012
Q: I like to go hiking, especially in the Southwest, every summer. Are there supplements I can take to increase my endurance at high altitudes?
A: At high altitudes, there is less oxygen in the atmosphere, and your heart has to work harder. There is also a change in atmospheric pressure, which reduces your body's ability to carry oxygen. Symptoms can range from breathlessness and fatigue to nausea and headaches. Most individuals need at least several days to adjust to significant changes in altitude. Here's what you can do to help speed the process:
Drink a glass of water every hour, so that your heart can pump more easily.
Dose yourself with a nutrient called coenzyme Q10 daily for at least five days before departing on your trip, and during the actual hike. This nutrient actually assists each cell's mitochondrion--its energy powerhouse--to burn fats, increasing general levels of energy. Co Q10 reduces high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats and will allow your heart to pump more efficiently at high altitudes. I recommend a daily dose of 120 milligrams.
Take dimethylglycine (DMG), a form of the amino acid glycine, which improves stamina. One tablet, dissolved under the tongue every hour during your hike, is recommended. Glycine may work by increasing the stores of glycogen, the sugar that your muscles use. A 1980 study also found that this supplement enhanced breathing capacity.
PHOTO (COLOR): Want to leap tall mountains in a single bound? If you like to hike In the mountains, supplements can help you adjust to the altitude.
BY DR. RICHARD FIRSHEIN