The Vitamins and Minerals every athlete needs

25 November 2021

The Vitamins and Minerals every athlete needs

The Vitamins and Minerals every athlete needs

Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients that play several roles in our body: adequate immune function, protection against oxidative stress, good metabolic function, maintenance of bone health, oxygen transport, muscle synthesis and maintenance, among others.

In fact, these micronutrients play a much more important role in our health than we might think, but in the case of athletes, the intake of some specific vitamins and minerals may need to be doubled. Many micronutrient deficiencies develop in an asymptomatic way, so health and physical performance can be compromised. Thus, it’s essential to reinforce the intake, either through food or through supplements, of the following vitamins and minerals:

Vitamin D: deficiency in this vitamin is common in athletes, depending on the sport and sun exposure. In addition to participating in processes associated with muscle hypertrophy and inflammatory modulation, vitamin D allows the maintenance of a healthy bone and immune system.
Foods rich in vitamin D: oily fish, eggs, yogurt and fortified milk.

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Iron: the main lack of this nutrient is concentrated in female athletes, as in addition to blood loss due to menstruation, there is also blood loss resulting from trauma, sweating and other mechanisms. This micronutrient is essential in the production of hemoglobin, having as its main function the transport of oxygen in the blood.
Iron deficiency can be detected at the analytical level, namely in reserves, by measuring ferritin. Still, low levels don’t mean that the athlete has symptoms and may develop anemia, which is harmful to physical performance.

Iron-rich food: red meat, leguminous and seeds.

Magnesium: this mineral is involved in over 300 cellular processes and in muscle contraction and relaxation, cardiac activity, bone health, protein synthesis and energy metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. The lack of this micronutrient, in an athletes, can compromise energy production, increase fatigue, injuries and cramps. In more severe conditions, it may have an implication in the reduction of bone mineral density, thus increasing the risk of osteoporosis.

Magnesium-rich foods: bananas, avocados and nuts.

Calcium: being the most abundant mineral in the body, this micronutrient is important not only for the health of bones and teeth, but also for good nervous system function, hormone secretion and muscle contraction. In this way, its lack has a strong impact on the athlete's performance at various levels.

Calcium-reich food: milk and dairy products, spinach, broccoli and almonds.

Vitamin C: powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. It acts against lipid peroxidation, keeping cell membranes functional. Furthermore, it participates in the formation and repair of collagen, a protein present in joints and cartilage. Therefore, vitamin C plays an important role in muscle growth and recovery, and can be beneficial in recovery from an injury. Deficiencies in this vitamin can compromise recovery and performance, without compromising health.

Vitamin C-rich food: strawberry, orange, lemon and cashew.

While vitamins and minerals don’t provide energy for athletes, they are crucial to turning food into energy and their importance to performance should not be underestimated.

By Adriana Martins, Nutritionist

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