Vitamins and Minerals Preferred by Athletes

Many nutritional plans are based on the correct distribution of macro-nutrients. Today, however, we'll be talking about micro-nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. What should you know about these components?

Last update: 19 June, 2019

When it comes to exercise, we need to pay special attention to our nutrition in order to optimize performance and to be healthier. A healthy diet is equivalent to a varied diet which is rich in all types of nutrients including vitamins and minerals. Today we’ll share a list of vitamins and minerals that are preferred by athletes.

Vitamins and minerals: their importance

Sports are beneficial to health. However, if you want to optimize your performance, you’ll have to go a bit further.

First, you have to ask yourself if you’re following a healthy diet which covers all of your energy demands. Demands for vitamins and minerals usually increase as you exercise regularly.

When you perform intense physical exercise, energy exchanges can increases from 20 to 100 fold. This can lead to micronutrient deficiencies (vitamins and minerals) in those who don’t follow a healthy diet. These losses can occur through various mechanisms such as sweat, urine or the increased use of nutrients by the muscles.

Vitamins

Vitamins are essential for physical performance, they play a fundamental role in energy metabolism and they also act as antioxidants. The following are the vitamins that athletes pay the most attention to:

Group B vitamins

The vitamins in this group are related to the metabolic pathways of carbohydrates and branched-chain amino acids ( the famous BCAAs), therefore, they are essential for energy metabolism.

People who exercise frequency have a higher demand for these vitamins. If you follow a healthy diet you shouldn’t experience any issues. However, if you’re following a restrictive weight loss diet, you should keep group B vitamins in mind.

Vitamin E

During exercise, free radicals are liberated. Free radicals are substances that can induce cell damage. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals.

Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that can help prevent tissue damage. It’s not been proven that vitamin E supplements are beneficial, however, it’s important to follow a healthy diet to receive a natural supply of vitamin E.

Vitamin C

Like vitamin E, vitamin C also works as an antioxidant. It plays a role in protecting muscle cells from exercise wear and tear. It’s not common for an athlete to have a vitamin C deficiency. However, if you find out that you have a vitamin C deficiency through blood tests, it’s important to take supplements as soon as possible. Vitamin C deficiencies can lead to scurvy.

Minerals

Minerals are a must for every athlete. They play an important role in metabolic processes and they also form part of many enzymes. Enzymes are the regulating proteins of the body’s cells.

In the following section, we’ll highlight the importance of calcium and iron which can be lost during exercise. Magnesium and zinc are also important minerals, however, deficiencies of these minerals rarely occur.

Iron

Iron is a fundamental nutrient since it forms part of hemoglobin, it’s a protein that’s present in blood cells and it carries oxygen to the body’s tissues.

It’s also a component of myoglobin, which is a protein that’s found in muscles. Deficiencies can be seen in endurance athletes. Therefore, it’s important for these types of athletes to pay special attention to their diets and to consider taking ferrous sulfate supplements.

Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that’s found in bones. Strength training promotes bone mineralization which improves the strength of bones and joints. That’s why the calcium requirements of athletes are increased.

The body needs to maintain physiological levels of calcium in the bloodstream. If intake drops, it begins to demineralize bones, this increases the risk of suffering from injuries such as fractures or fissures. Calcium supplements can prevent these complications.

Magnesium and zinc

These nutrients are essential, they intervene in the metabolic reactions of macronutrients such as carbohydrates and they favor the synthesis of new muscle cells. Zinc also acts as an antioxidant.

However, supplementation of these minerals isn’t recommended for athletes. They may even be harmful if they’re taken in excess. In order to maintain adequate levels of these nutrients, it’s important to carry out a healthy and balanced diet.

In conclusion, you’ve now learned the basics of nutrition for athletes. Having frequent checkups and being alert to symptoms are the basic methods of preventing complications that could affect the body.

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