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5 Weeks Out: Micro Nutrients for Athletes

May 5th, 2016

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5 Weeks Out: Micro Nutrients for Athletes

What are Micro nutrients?

Micro nutrients are a mix of the vitamins and minerals that act as coenzymes that help our bodies free energy from food, repair and grow body tissues (including muscles!), and assist in many other important functions such as improving immunity, improving oxidative metabolism, and increasing antioxidants in the body.

Why does this matter for performance athletes?

Because micro nutrients DIRECTLY impact an athletes performance via levels of energy, available output, metabolism, and lean muscle building.

Unfortunately, most athletes (even those with a reportedly varied diet) often live with chronic micro nutrient deficiencies.

Some of the major ones found in the research include:

 

  • Iodine – 100% of the diets were deficient in iodine
  • Vitamin D – 95% of the diets were deficient in vitamin D
  • Zinc – 80% of the diets were deficient in zinc
  • Vitamin E – 65% of the diets were deficient in vitamin E
  • Calories – 50% of the diets were deficient in calories
  • Calcium – 50% of the diets were deficient in calcium

 

 

How do we combat this?


While ideally we’d get all of our micro nutrients from food (and do so by increasing colorful veggies and fruits in our diet, among with organ meats and other foods) the odds are that the most successful strategy would be supplementation.

However, Supplementation can be tricky too.  Some products are better than others. How? Well, because of our body’s ability to use it, or absorption (after all, “we are what we absorb”) is important, and if a vitamin is made synthetically, which most on the market are, there can be varying degrees of absorption among brands.

Another consideration is that the timing of taking certain vitamins can also play a role in our body’s ability to reap it’s benefits.

All of this being said, an EASY way to make sure you are buying something USEFUL is to do your research on the brands you buy from (and talk to local natural grocery employees, they usually can help you learn to find what’s what). Some general guidelines include buying Vitamin D in the Vitamin D3 form and Vitamin C is best  absorbed when taken with K2.

Major vitamins to avoid taking WITH other vitamins, because they take priority in the body’s absorption process, would be Magnesium and Iron. Iron can be taken in the afternoon, and then magnesium at night (with the added bonus of helping some people sleep better!).

If all of that seems a bit too overwhelming, then it is better to take your vitamins consistently, and all together than none at all. So start there. Or focus on getting more Vitamin C, D3, and Calcium into your diet. If you want to get more specific and enhance your performance even more, I’d recommend working with a knowledgeable nutritionist and functional medicine doctor. They can specifically test you to see where YOU are deficient, and help you find what vitamins would give you the best bang for your buck.

One last thing: don’t go overboard! Keep your regimen simple and sustainable. I make an effort to only take 3-4 supplements a day to keep it from becoming overwhelming and hard to stick too. While micro nutrients will help in many ways, usually there’s only a few vitamins that people are really in need of supplementing if their diets are mostly from whole foods. Another good reason to feed your body well!


 

None of the above information is intended to replace or be taken as medical advice. If you have any comments or feedback, please contact Jenny Helms via jennyahelms@gmail.com (No spam please!).

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