Everybody’s talking about the perfect macronutrient ratio. These perfect foods you should be eating to consume this amount of protein vs that amount of carbs, but how much thought have you given to vitamins and minerals? How do these little beauties affect your long-term health and fitness? If your answer is “not much”, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. People often neglect the importance of micronutrients, and as a result their performance in and out of the gym suffers.
No one would blame you for not thinking of micronutrients as something that would up your fitness game. Micronutrients are often associated with general health and not fitness per se, but the reality is quite different. Here are the vitamins and minerals every athlete should get through proper nutrition and supplementation.
Let’s start with one of the most overlooked micronutrient– vitamin E. This oily antioxidant is found in foods such as nuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds and dark leafy vegetables such as broccoli. Vitamin E is very beneficial for your overall health. It acts as a powerful antioxidant that protects your body from free radicals generated by air pollution, daily metabolic processes, and stressful workouts. And guess what, non-smokers who exercise and consume enough vitamin E have a 69% less chance of catching pneumonia!
You’ve been taught as a kid to drink milk so you can grow up to be strong and powerful. Now that you’re all grown up, do you even drink milk anymore? Probably not and that’s okay. You don’t need to drink milk to get your daily dose of this crucial mineral.
Calcium is essential for healthy, dense, strong bone structure, but it is also crucial for proper muscle contraction. You can take it as a daily supplement, or you can find it in dairy products that aren’t milk, fish, and dark leafy vegetables.
“The calcium in dark green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, and bok choy, is absorbed by the body about twice as well as the calcium in milk, and you also get as a bonus: fiber and folate, iron and antioxidants, and bone health superstar vitamin K. You won’t find any of this stuff in milk.” (http://nakedfoodmagazine.com/calcium-plant-vs-dairy/)
Known around the health industry as one of the most powerful preventative remedies for a myriad of conditions, coenzyme Q10 is a must on your supplementation list. You can take a coq10 supplement on a daily basis to support cardiovascular health, but more importantly for you as an athlete, to keep your energy levels topped-off throughout the day. This powerful antioxidant is useful in fighting post-workout inflammation as well, allowing your body to recover properly before the next training session.
The red blood cells in your body transport energy. This means that they are responsible for delivering energy when you most need it during training. Iron is one of the main facilitators of this process, which is why every athlete needs to consume it in abundance.
Iron deficiency can cause fatigue and drowsiness, and it can also hinder your mental performance and affect your emotional well-being. By structuring your meals properly and eating everything from lentils, ground beef, eggs and dark leafy greens, you can easily prevent these problems.
Two things cannot be argued: vitamin C is extremely important for a number of essential functions in the body (your immune system included), and you need to be consuming more of it. For an athlete trying to maximize their performance, vitamin C plays an important role of aiding the production of collagen in the body, leading to healthier, tougher skin, bones, and muscle tissue.
Fortunately, consuming more vitamin C shouldn’t be a problem, seeing as how many foods are rich with this wonderful micronutrient. You can find it in broccoli and spinach, bell peppers, and of course, citrus fruits of every kind.
Selenium helps the body in a myriad of ways, and maybe even more importantly, it helps in maintaining psychological and emotional well-being in athletes, and people undergoing stressful situations in general.
The mineral has been shown to fight free radical damage, boost immune system health, and prevent cancer, but it also has the power to elevate your mood, fight depression, and help you push through the hardest of workouts. Make sure you get plenty of it from lentils and beans, nuts and seeds, seafood, and whole grains.
Every athlete should know the importance of potassium in their diet when it comes to performance, injury prevention, and proper cell function. By regulating fluid balance throughout the body, this mineral supports healthy muscle cell function. It also helps your body store energy for the workout ahead. You can find it in dairy products and starchy carbs, lentils and legumes. Although keep in mind that the poor bio availability of the mineral might require added supplementation.
In a world where everyone is looking for the perfect workout and the perfect macronutrient ratio to build muscle and keep fat at bay, micronutrients are actually the unsung heroes of your success in and out of the gym. These essential vitamins and minerals can safely take your fitness game to a whole new level of success.
Scarlet is a passionate writer and regular contributor at ripped.me interested in fashion, lifestyle, and health. She loves traveling, especially when she has a chance to visit some exotic destinations. She would tell you that inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places.
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