Essential Micronutrients for Sports Performers

As keen sports men and women we’re often keen to know what we should be eating to help refuel and energise our bodies in order to improve. Whilst usually we think on a macronutrient level, i.e. Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats, today I thought I would take a moment to look at a few micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) which we should all be including in our diets to optimise our bodies functioning.  Below are 5 great micronutrients which play vital roles in areas such as aiding recovery and immunity.

Vitamins & minerals

Vitamin C – A powerful micronutrient that is pivotal for any keen athletes. Arguably one of the most important micronutrients, Vitamin C is crucial for a healthy immune system, as well as aiding in numerous other areas, such as connective tissue repair. When recovery is such a key aspect of training and progressing, maintaining adequate vitamin C levels should be a concern for sports performers.

Vitamin D – An essential nutrient for food absorption and Testosterone production.  It has been shown that men with higher levels of Vitamin D have naturally lower levels of body fat and higher lean muscle mass than those with lower levels of this vitamin. It is therefore definitely worth looking into how much Vitamin D you have in your diet and considering ways to potentially increase this amount in order to optimise your sports performance.

Sodium and Potassium (electrolytes) – Needed for muscle contractions & hydration.  Typical of any isotonic sports drink, these 2 micronutrients are depleted during exercise through sweat hence the need for replenishment following exercise.

Zinc – Helps Repair and Refuel. Perhaps a mineral that you may not consider much, Zinc is very important for the keen sportsman/woman as it also aids in repair of tissues along with helping your body convert foods into useable fuels.

Vitamin B6 – Energy releaser – This vitamin plays a key role in the breakdown of stored fuel for energy so it is essential that your diet contains adequate levels of B6 so that you can access and breakdown all of the major macronutrients that you consume for fuel and repair.

 

Hopefully this quick blog may have given you a little food for thought and has got you thinking about your current diet and whether it needs to be altered at all to ensure you have enough of these crucial micronutrients available to you. A typical healthy diet containing plenty of natural foods is likely to contain most of what you’re likely to need on a micronutrient level, but it’s definitely worth looking into further if you are a serious sports performer.

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About Roy Barber

‘I am aspiring athlete and fitness enthusiast, currently studying Sport and Exercise Science at Loughborough University, widely regarded as the best course of its type in Europe. I am currently a 3 time County Athletics gold medallist over the sprint disciplines at junior level and am working hard every single day to continually improve myself mentally, physically and athletically. With a great passion for all things fitness and sport, I hope over the coming years to forge a successful and fruitful career in sport, dealing with a variety of aspects such as strength and conditioning, nutrition and recovery. ‘

‘I ended up at Loughborough studying what I am because I’ve known for a few years now if I was going to go to university, sports science was the degree for me, I’ve always loved sport, PE and learning about all the different areas of science in relation to the human body so it was a natural move for me. In terms of why Loughborough specifically, I always heard great things about the university, I had a relative who came here and loved it, and I was incredibly impressed with the campus when I came on an open day and fell in love with the place.

Who inspires me to compete is a more difficult question, I’d have to start by saying my coach who has done a fantastic job in turning me into a ‘proper athlete’. I am also inspired by a range of people in my life, from world class athletes to friends and family.

Roy Barber is 20 years old and comes from a small Leicestershire town called Market Harborough

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