As time passes with more information coming out about COVID-19, parents and athletes are looking for ways to improve their immunity, keeping them healthy and strong. Immunity isn't the first thing we discuss in Strength and Conditioning, but it is extremely important to know how vitamins and minerals will help improve your game and keep you healthy. We will review our top nutrients we encourage athletes to get more of through proper dietary options.
(1) Vitamin D is a Fat-Soluble nutrient that is found in a lot of foods. Sources of Vitamin D are limited but van be found in Mushrooms, Fish, Dairy and of course Sunlight. Vitamin D also plays a role in calcium absorption which is critical for bone and muscle performance. It also plays a vital role in the prevention of Cancers, Osteoporosis, and Type II Diabetes.
"(2) Based on the literature presented, it is plausible that vitamin D levels above the normal reference range (up to 100 nmol/L) might increase skeletal muscle function, decrease recovery time from training, increase both force and power production, and increase testosterone production, each of which could potentiate athletic performance." Not only does this aid in performance, it aids in recovery!
Magnesium is a compound that has over 300 enzymes that play a role in muscle contractions, oxygen delivery and protein synthesis. (3) "Accumulating evidence supports the hypothesis that magnesium and zinc play significant roles in promoting strength and cardiorespiratory function in healthy persons and athletes. Differences in study designs, however, limit conclusions about recommendations for intakes of magnesium and zinc needed for optimal performance and function."
(4) "Endurance athletes often adopt an unusual diet in an attempt to enhance performance: an excessive increase in carbohydrates and low intake of proteins and fat may lead to suboptimal zinc intake in 90% of athletes." Because Zinc plays a role in cellular respiration, and protein synthesis, endurance athletes will lack performance. Deficiencies in Zinc can also delay wound healing, (5) " Wound healing, inflammation and immune response are intimately associated with one another. Over the years zinc has been shown capable of modulating both innate and adaptive immune functions. Zinc alters immune responses in a multitude of ways ranging from myeloid-derived cells and inflammatory signalling to lymphocyte differentiation and antibody production."
Soccer players are commonly deficient in Vitamin E due the nature of the aerobics involved. Vitamin E can help reduce oxidative stress through as it helps eliminate free radicals, and reducing blood lactate levels.
Glutamine is an Non- Essential Amino Acid that aids in the recovery of muscle tissue and has been found to decrease over long bouts of training. Glutamine is also reduces susceptibility to infections. (6) "Skeletal muscle and plasma glutamine levels are lowered by sepsis, injury, burns, surgery and endurance exercise and in the overtrained athlete." If you are having longer recovery times from training or practices, there's a big possibility that you are deficient in Glutamine.
Glutamine also assist the the digestion by providing a reduction in mucus in the gut reducing inflammation. Digestive health is just as important in performance as building strength and power. Without proper hydration, and nutrients developing strength and power maybe delayed.
There are many other potentially important nutrients such as Iron that can assist in the aid of performance and recovery. Adequate amounts of proteins, carbohydrates and fats are important to injury prevention but overall health. Overall, eat complex foods that provide the right type of energy for your body to perform.
Keeping it simple, things like dehydration can lead to a decrease in performance by as much as 6-8%. Lack of proper sleeping patterns can hinder growth, when recovery is most important. Last thing... get quality sleep!