Are Vitamin and Mineral Levels Optimal in Athletes?

As we are now allowed to return to the gym, team sports and exercise Dr Shane examines whether vitamin and mineral levels are optimal in athletes.

A recently published German article looking at the effectiveness of sports nutrition in ensuring adequate micronutrient status in athletes has demonstrated low levels across several key nutrients.

The aim of the investigation was to “evaluate the micronutrient status of top athletes of various sports and to evaluate possible interrelationships with fatigue, sleep disorders, susceptibility to infections and muscle injuries.”

Athletes included in the study (111 athletes, both male and female) participated in a range of sports including football, hockey athletics, tennis, and motor sports.  All were evaluated according to a questionnaire (sleep disorders, fatigue, muscle injuries, susceptibility to infections).

The main findings of the study are:

  • Many athletes, regardless of sport, were borderline or even undersupplied on a broad basis with micronutrients.
  • Athletes under 18 years old show a considerably worse supply with micronutrients than adults.
  • The nutrients showing the least optimal intake were:
    • Vitamin D (51% showed an inadequate level).
    • Coenzyme Q10 (69% showed an inadequate level).
    • Iron (34% showed an inadequate level).
    • Magnesium (27% showed an inadequate level).
    • Selenium (57% showed an inadequate level).

The authors indicate that deficiencies in Vitamin D and Selenium have an immunological impact on the athlete. Whilst intracellular Iron, Magnesium, and Coenzyme Q10 are mitochondrially essential.

So what?

To optimise our health, we are encouraged to adopt lifestyle activities that promote our wellbeing. Engaging in regular physical activity is central to this routine. As with the athletes investigated in this study, we need to ensure that we have an excellent, ideal diet. The prudent supplementation of key nutrients can help us achieve their optimal intake, as many of us are likely to be deficient as highlighted in the population investigated in this research.

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Reference: Erpenbach K, Erpenbach MC, Mayer W, Hoffmann U, Mücke S (2021) Is the recent sports nutrition sufficient to maintain optimal micronutrient levels? Glo J Ortho Re Spo Med: GJORSM-102. [Access Here]

This post is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice or act as a substitute for seeking such advice from a qualified health professional. In order to make the blog series easier to read, I have used a conversational tone in many places with personal pronouns, such as “I” and “you.” This is meant only to make it more pleasant to read, and is not meant to imply that the information constitutes any form of advice, whether personal or general.