Athletes, or those who exercise regularly, have different nutritional needs as their activity places higher and different demands on their body. They have an increased need for fuel or energy so tend to eat more, so if they are eating a well-balanced diet, chances are they are getting the nutrients they need. There are several vitamins and minerals, though, that should be tracked to ensure proper nutrition for function and to avoid nutrient depletion.
Those who engage in endurance activities (think cardio: running, biking, swimming) use more oxygen as their body works to create energy, leaving bi-products, including free radicals. Free radicals cause cellular damage, but the body rids itself of free radicals with the help of antioxidants. Antioxidants (vitamins A, C and E, carotenoids and others), have additional reported beneficial health affects, including improved immunity.
Vitamin D is another vitamin to which people who exercise should pay special attention. It is necessary for the absorption of calcium, and is therefore essential for bone health, and has been shown to reduce inflammation, and improve immune function.
B vitamins are necessary for energy production during exercise. Folate and B12 are also important in production of red blood cells, protein synthesis, tissue repair and maintenance. Some reports indicate that athletes may need double the RDA of B vitamins.
Selenium is a micronutrient, an important nutrient needed in small amounts. It also helps protect the body from free radicals.
People who exercise tend to lose minerals through perspiration. Calcium is a mineral necessary for bone health and is important in muscle function, so it is another nutrient important to the athlete.
For more information on supplements for people who exercise, go to: www.advancedweight.com/blog/supplements-exercise.
Be sure to discuss supplements with your health professional before making any changes to your regimen.