Guest Blog: Essential Micro-Nutrition For Athletes & Fitness Freaks by Jonathon Harrelson
Essential Micro-Nutrition For Athletes & Fitness Freaks
This article was authored by health/nutrition/fitness enthusiast, Jonathon Harrelson.
Micronutrition – also known as vitamins and minerals – can make a huge difference to an athlete’s performance when used correctly. However, believe it or not it is possible to overdose on vitamins and minerals, so taking lots of multivitamin tablets isn’t necessarily going to turn you into Mo Farrah overnight – in fact, you could even cause some problems for your liver.
So, which are the essential nutrients for fitness freaks, and how can you get them into your system safely?
Strong bones are a must for people who work out often, and calcium certainly helps here – but it is also great for cardiovascular health and muscle contraction. Aim for 1000-1500 mg per day, through foods like milk, cheese and yoghurt.
Available in lean red meat, whole grains and leafy green vegetables, iron is great for your blood, helping the oxygen to get to where it needs to be. Aim for between 10-15mg per day, and if you work out for more than six hours a week make sure you get your iron levels checked annually.
This one is an all rounder, having at least 30 functions in our bodies. In terms of fitness, it’s great for immune system support, antioxidant function and repairing connective tissue and ligaments. Obviously oranges are a great source, but so too are strawberries, bell peppers, kiwis and potatoes.
Having too little potassium in your diet can be very bad news – it can lead to weak muscles, abnormal heart rhythms and a rise in blood pressure. Potassium helps to stabilise muscle contraction, as well as regulate the total body water. Bananas are rich in potassium, and whole grains and low fat milk are also great sources.
For your muscles to repair after exercise, it’s a good idea to ensure you incorporate enough zinc into your diet. The mineral also helps to convert food into fuel for your workout. Fish and oysters are a great source, as are beef, egg yolk and bran.
If you’re suffering from cramps, it may be due to a lack of salt in your diet. If you’re exercising for more than three or four hours at a time, consider using sports drinks, which replenish your body with the salts it needs to continue. However, consume too much salt and your blood pressure could go through the roof, potentially leading to problems such as strokes and heart disease.
This is a great antioxidant, and can reduce damage to muscular tissue. Try olive oil, sunflower seeds and salmon to get your intake.
This is what makes carrots the colour they are, and is also a great antioxidant for your respiratory system and skin. It’s also great for healing wounds. Carrots are obviously a great source, but so also are other orange fruits and vegetables.
This is a free radical, but though that sounds as though it should be harmful for your body, it’s actually fantastic for your immune system and to repair cellular damage. Try garlic, mushrooms and Brazil nuts to get your intake.
Struggling with fatigue when exercising, or perhaps cramps or nausea? You could be suffering from a lack of magnesium. This wonder mineral is great for your energy resources, as well as your muscles and bones. You can find it in nuts, soy beans and figs.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s important not to overdo it with vitamins and minerals, and getting your allowance through foods is much better than taking supplements. However, if you stuggle to get enough then taking a good supplement can be helpful.
It is important to remember that if you are exercising regularly you will not only need more calories than a regular person but you will need to keep these essential vitamins topped up too. If you are exercising and dieting at the same time this is doubly true!
About Jonathon Harrelson
Jonathon Harrelson works at NaturesBest where they sell a range of supplements and natural remedies to help healthy people stay healthy. When he’s not writing about nutrition, he loves going to the gym. He is also a keen rock climber and snowboarder – so you can understand why his health is so important to him! He’s a bit of a fitness freak now, but for a long time his health & nutrition were not great. A couple of years ago he decided to change his lifestyle and develop healthier habits. After losing a fair amount of weight he started to realise just how much better being healthy feels, which is why he enjoys helping other people live more healthily.