There are 22 essential minerals that our bodies need in trace amounts on a regular basis. Those who participate in endurance sports such as running and marathon training need to be especially sure that they are getting enough essential minerals to obtain peak performance and endurance. Here’s the list of the most important dietary minerals and how to receive the daily-recommended levels of them all.
We all know that calcium is crucial to healthy bones, but it is also plays an important part in fat storage and muscle contraction. Runners in particular need sufficient calcium to develop strong bones to cope with the vigors of training as well as maintaining a lean body composition. The recommended daily intake is 1,000 to 1,300 mg which can be obtained with three servings of dairy or soy products per day, such as a cup of milk (8 fl.oz), low-fat yoghurt, soy beans, seeds and egg yolks. However, research suggests that calcium supplements, taken in conjunction with vitamin D, are more effectively digested for maintaining bone density than dairy products.
Iron is another essential mineral that our body needs. It helps produce red blood cells which carry oxygen to the muscles during exercise. Anemia, or lack of iron, is a common cause of tiredness and fatigue – the last thing an athlete wants to suffer from.
The recommended daily iron intake is 10 grams per day for men and 15 grams for pre-menopausal women. It can be found in beef, chicken and tuna and supplements are a good source of iron. However, you should not exceed daily recommended amounts without the advice of a physician as too much iron can be toxic.
Sodium, commonly known as salt, is needed by the body to transmit electrical signals throughout the body such as contracting the muscles when required. As sodium is lost in sweat during exercise, athletes may need a slightly higher intake than non-athletes. However, daily requirements of sodium are 500 mg per day and the average American consumes seven times that amount in a typical processed western diet. The best way to keep sodium in balance for athletes is by consuming a sports drink during exercise, especially in the heat. This prevents the blood volume from decreasing through sweating and keeps cardiac performance at its optimum during exercise.
Zinc plays many crucial roles in our body’s immune system and performance. It is a vital component of enzymes that helps remove carbon dioxide from the blood. Adequate zinc intake is essential for optimum health and is found in beans, nuts and whole grains. The recommended daily intake is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men.
Few of us have a perfectly balanced, unprocessed diet as nature intended and it is particularly important for athletes, those on a high-carb diet or suffering from lethargy to ensure their mineral intake is meeting the recommended amounts of those 22 essential minerals. The best way is by eating sensibly and taking a carefully formulated daily supplement, which tops up any shortfall. Try adding a few drops of a liquid mineral supplement to water to re-mineralize and re-energize your body for optimal health.
Do you currently take any mineral supplements?