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If you are an athlete, you’re much more active than the average American. Even if you’re not an "athlete," but train like an athlete and live an active lifestyle, the demands you put on your body are greater than the ordinary person. Therefore, your body requires a higher amount of micronutrients since your body utilizes them to maintain your high activity level. Unfortunately, there are some common micronutrient deficiencies in athletes that can hurt not only their performance but also their health.
In this article, we are going to look at some of the most common micronutrient deficiencies and what it means to your athletic performance and health. At the very end of the article, we will wrap it all up with simple ways to ensure you do not become deficient.
Do you live an active lifestyle, or are you an athlete who wants to compete at the highest level? If you are deficient in one or several micronutrients, your body won’t be able to function optimally, which can drastically decrease your performance (both mental and physical).
Below are the common micronutrient deficiencies in athletes that you need to pay very close attention to.
B-vitamins are very important when it comes to health and performance, and B12 is no exception. Vitamin B12 plays a role in helping keep the nerves and cells of the body healthy. It is more common for vegans to become deficient in B12 due to their diet eliminating animal products, but those who consume animal products can still become deficient.
Having adequate levels of Vitamin B12 can help reduce fatigue, improve muscular endurance, and naturally boost energy levels to allow you the ability to push yourself during training and competition.
One of the most common micronutrient deficiencies in athletes as well as most American adults is vitamin D. While you can get natural vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, most people are not able to get enough from being outdoors or through their diet alone. Not to mention when the colder months arrive (depending on where you live), the amount of daylight becomes shorter, which can further limit your exposure.
Those who suffer from a deficiency in vitamin D may notice they are tired and fatigued and may even find they are weaker. A lack of vitamin D can also alter mood, which may become more apparent in the colder months (this is sometimes associated with seasonal depression).
Other than mood, vitamin D is essential for bone health as it can help regulate calcium and phosphate levels. Additionally, a lack of adequate vitamin D levels can cause a loss in muscle strength.
Whether you’re a competitive athlete or someone who stays active, you more than likely sweat when training or competing. Iron is lost when you sweat, which can cause a deficiency if not replenished. Females tend to be the most prone to iron deficiency (especially during their menstruation cycle), but males can also suffer from not taking in enough iron through their diet or supplementation.
The role of iron is to help transport oxygen to the muscles, which can help improve your overall performance. Those who are deficient in iron may experience fatigue, weakness, and even rapid heart rate.
Common micronutrient deficiencies in athletes can occur simply by sweating. When it’s hot or you’re exerting maximum effort, it’s normal for your body to sweat in order to try to cool the body. Key minerals known as electrolytes are lost during these periods, and when you train or exercise, the body can require up to 20% more magnesium than when you’re not active.
Magnesium is a vital electrolyte that needs to be replenished following bouts of exercise. The role of magnesium is to help support your body’s healthy management of inflammation, support bone health, and allow your body to turn food into usable energy.
When it comes to maintaining hydration levels, proper fluid balance, and muscle contraction, potassium is a must. Just like with some of the other nutrients mentioned above, you lose this important electrolyte through sweat.
Potassium is one of the common micronutrient deficiencies that many people encounter, and two usual symptoms of a loss in potassium are muscle cramping and weakness. Severe cases can even lead to an abnormal heart rhythm. If you’ve ever seen an athlete eating a banana in the middle of a competition, it’s to help replenish potassium levels.
Zinc is a supplement that not many consider being one of the common micronutrient deficiencies in athletes, and instead, they recognize it as helping boost the immune system and prevent illnesses. While that’s definitely an advantage of not being deficient (if you’re sick, you can’t perform optimally during training or athletics), zinc also helps the body process protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
This mineral has many other benefits when it comes to performance as well. If you become injured where you get scrapes or cuts on your skin, it could sideline you from competition. Zinc can help support wound healing and allow you to recover quicker.
Ensuring you have adequate zinc levels can also help delay the onset of fatigue when training or competing. Lastly, men can find zinc essential to help them support their body’s healthy natural testosterone production. Clearly, normalized testosterone levels play a role in building and maintaining lean muscle mass.
Last on our list of common micronutrient deficiencies in athletes is calcium. While you may assume you consume enough dairy products to fulfill your daily requirements, you may still be falling short. If you don’t consume dairy products at all, you may be even more at risk. Athletes may not even know they are deficient as many don’t assume they lose calcium through sweat, but they do.
Calcium aids in muscle contraction, nerve function, the release of vital hormones, as well as supporting bone strength and health. Being that athletes run, jump, bound, dive, and put their bodies under extreme stress can put them at risk for breaks and fractures. Calcium can help prevent such injuries from happening.
Now that we dissected the common micronutrient deficiencies in athletes, how do we fix the issue? Well, it’s sort of a convoluted answer.
You can prevent such deficiencies by consuming a wide variety of foods in your diet, but to be completely honest with you, most people will find it incredibly difficult since we are creatures of habit and preferences, and unless you enjoy various fruits, vegetables, dairy, and animal products, you’re probably not going to be able to take in your daily requirements from your diet alone. That being said, that doesn’t mean you should give up on eating a wide variety of foods! But all hope isn’t lost if you absolutely despise any of the food items I just mentioned.
One of the best ways for you to get in your recommended daily requirements of micronutrients is through a quality multivitamin/mineral supplement. You generally take one serving per day, and when combined with a solid nutrition plan, you can more easily fulfill your micronutrient requirements.
If you want to feel and perform your best, try EndurElite Vitamin Elite. Not only can this multivitamin supplement help fill micronutrient gaps and common micronutrient deficiencies in athletes, but it combines a bunch of other helpful ingredients to help further enhance its potency. For instance, EndurElite Vitamin Elite includes a fruits and greens superfood blend, the patented antioxidant ingredient Spectra™, and to tie it all together, it includes piperine to help increase the absorption of these key nutrients to help provide you with the best bang for your buck. After all, the last thing you want to do is not be able to absorb your multivitamin and flush it down the toilet (literally).
Help prevent common micronutrient deficiencies in athletes by picking up a bottle of EndurElite Vitamin Elite today!