Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients the body requires to enable proper function, growth and development. Unlike macronutrients, vitamins and minerals are typically only required in small amounts.
Whether sports-active or not, a busy lifestyle often means compromised food choices, leading to compromised micronutrient intake.
These nutrients tend to be most abundant in fruits and vegetables, which can be difficult to incorporate into the modern diet at every meal.
Micronutrient requirements are even greater for athletes. Supplementation is beneficial for anyone who falls into any of the following categories:
- Those following an energy restricted diet in order to maintain low body weight or a minimum body fat percentage (e.g. gymnasts, bodybuilders)
- Those who choose a diet that does not provide a balanced intake of macronutrients (e.g. high protein diets, high intake of refined carbohydrates)
- Those who choose to eliminate one or more food groups from a diet (e.g. vegetarians, those with food intolerances and aversions, detox dieters)
- Athletes who require prolonged travel for training and competition, where food supply and/or choice is restricted
- Athletes whose heavy training competition schedule, or busy work life interrupts their ability to prepare and plan wholesome meals
|C (ascorbic acid)
||An important cellular antioxidant. Required to synthesise collagen (a structural protein) and carnitine (an important compound used in the transportation and breakdown of long-chain fatty acids).
||Collectively, the Vitamin B group is essential for metabolising energy, allowing the body to utilise the carbohydrates, fat and protein supplied by the diet. Typically, they fulfil the role of co-enzymes, which are necessary to catalyse numerous reactions.
|B12 & folic acid
||Important in the development of red blood cells, which help to carry oxygen to working muscles and genetic material.
|A (retinol & betacarotene)
||Essential for growth and development, due to its role in gene expression and tissue differentiation. Vitamin A is also important for vision and immune function. Betacarotene is a pro-vitamin, meaning it can be converted to Vitamin A as required.
It has been identified as an important antioxidant.
||To maintain calcium balance and enhance intestinal calcium absorption. Vitamin D is integral in supporting bone health to assist in preventing fractures in contact sports.
||The primary antioxidant within the cell membrane. Also important to maintain cellular structure and integrity.
||Important in promoting healthy bone mass. Calcium also has essential functions in ensuring the maintenance of muscle contractility and proper response to hormones and neurotransmitters.
||Plays a role in protein synthesis and carbohydrates metabolism. It is important for muscle contractions and is an essential bone mineral.
|Sodium & Potassium
||The balance of sodium outside the cell and potassium inside the cell is largely responsible for maintaining normal composition of fluid, both within and outside the cell.
||Forms part of the ‘glucose tolerance factor’. It is believed that chromium optimises the action of insulin.
||Zinc is a constituent of many enzymes (>200) and in this role, plays a part in protein digestion, protein synthesis, carbohydrate metabolism, bone metabolism, oxygen transportation and protection against free radical damage. Zinc is also essential for immune defence systems.
||This is required for the powerful intracellular antioxidant enzyme, glutathione peroxidase. It also has a role in assisting thyroid function.
||Required to form haemoglobin, the oxygen carrying protein in red blood cells. Iron also fulfils a role in the correct functioning of many enzymes