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Stonyfield Tip of the Month: Improved performance through nutrition - Vitamins and minerals for performance

October 31, 2011 10:51 AM
Improving performance through nutrition.
Vitamins and minerals are vital to your health and performance. They help to:
 
  • Convert food into energy,
  • Grow, maintain and repair muscle tissue,
  • Support bone health and immune function.
 
You need to consume vitamins and minerals because your body can’t make them. But, before you rush out to your local supplement shop, examine your diet. Are you eating an optimal diet full of nutrient-rich foods? The answer is probably "no."
 
According to a recent statement from the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine, most athletes should look no further than their local grocery store (or farmers market) to get the vitamins and minerals they need. The key is to consume an adequate amount of a variety of foods. And foods—unlike pills—offer a host of other nutrition and health promoting benefits, including fiber, protein and more.
 
Below is a list of vitamins and minerals that are particularly important for every athlete, along with a list of foods in which they’re found. Check out the Quick Facts for each on this website to find out your daily requirements.
 
Calcium and vitamin D. This vitamin-mineral duo is best known for its ability to grow, maintain and repair bone tissue. Athletes who don’t consume enough of these are at greater risk for low bone mineral density and stress fractures. Female athletes need to be especially aware of their intake.
 
Food sources: Yogurt, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, egg yolk. Check to see that the product has been fortified with vitamin D.
 
 
The B vitamins. This group of vitamins plays several key roles in maximizing athletic performance, including energy production during exercise, building and maintaining healthy muscle tissue and producing red blood cells. Vegetarian athletes should pay close attention to their intake of these vitamins because certain B vitamins (for example, B12) aren’t easily obtained through a vegetarian diet.
 
Food sources: Milk, whole-grain enriched cereal products, legumes (dried peas and beans), meats, green leafy vegetables.
 
Iron. The main function of this mineral is to help your body transport and use oxygen—a function vital to your performance on the court. Iron requirements are higher for athletes, and deficiencies among athletes are common. Long-distance runners, vegetarians and female athletes need to be particularly aware of their iron intake.
 
Food sources: Beef, pork, chicken, salmon, beans, fortified cereal, spinach, broccoli, tofu. Red meat provides the most easily absorbed form of iron.
 
Zinc. This is found in nearly every tissue in the body and plays an essential role in the body’s ability to use energy. It’s also related to protein and bone synthesis and immune health. Research has shown a direct link between zinc and physical performance. Athletes who consume a high carbohydrate, low protein and low fat diet—particularly female athletes—are at risk for zinc deficiency.
 
Food sources: Beef, pork, chicken, oysters, tuna, wheat germ, lentils, almonds, spinach. Animal foods are the best sources of zinc.
 
  
Next up: Hydration – Create a personal hydration plan to fuel your game.
 
 
 

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