Published May 01, 2009 11:12
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that are needed in small amounts in the diet to support optimal health and performance. They have many important functions in the body which include:
* Energy metabolism
* Formation of blood cells
* Bone growth and health
* Muscle repair
* Improve immune system
* Protection against tissue damage
* Build muscle
* Assist recovery and injury healing
Many people may compete with or experience a nutrient deficiency for a variety of reasons:
* Professional athletes have up to 30% more requirements for many vitamins and minerals compared to non-athletes, due to the energy costs of tennis and of muscle repair and building.
* If total energy intake or dietary variety is restricted, as may occur if a person tries to change their weight.
* During prolonged periods of travel, particularly to countries with a limited or unfamiliar food supply.
* During a heavy competitive schedule and intense physical training load which is common among professional players.
* During times of growth, such as puberty and bone maturation (into the early 20s).
* Change of diet e.g. becoming vegetarian
Where possible, vitamin and mineral rich foods should be eaten to provide all the nutritional needs.
Even with the best diet, it may be difficult to meet these high nutritional demands. In these circumstances, people may be advised to take supplements to ensure they receive all their nutritional needs.
Types of Supplements
There are two main types of supplementation that people, especially athletes, may need:
* Contain nutrients usually found in food (Examples: multi-vitamins, calcium, iron)
* Used to help meet nutritional demands, especially when the diet is inadequate and during times of heavy training, illness, or injury.
* Conveniently packed products that meet physiological and nutritional needs to assist in sport performance. (Examples: sports bars, drinks, and gels)
* Bars are often used as a recovery snack to supply easily digested carbohydrates, protein, and energy.
* Sports drinks include electrolytes and carbohydrates to promote hydration, fluid intake, and glycogen repletion.
* Sports Gels are easily consumed, semi-solid foods; they maintain blood glucose levels.
Below is a list of vitamins/minerals there main function in the body and some good food options they are found in.
Vitamin/Mineral: Main Function (Good Food Option)
Vitamin A: Promotes Strong teeth and bones: Keeps the skin health and supports night vision, boosts the immune system and aids would healing. Betacarotene (bc) has about 1/6th of the most active form of Vitamin A. (Carrots, sweet potato, slice of cheese, 1/2tlbsp butter/marg)
Vitamin B: This group consists of 11 individual vitamins that have specific roles in the body. They are necessary for energy and macronutrient metabolism (Liver, germ and bran of cereal grains, legumes and nuts)
Vitamin C: It is a powerful antioxidant and is necessary for healthy connective tissue, bones, teeth and cartilage; enhances immune system (Orange, green pepper, pawpaw, strawberries)
Calicum: Required for healthy bones and teeth and essential for proper muscle contraction. (Best together with Vitamin D) (Skim milk, yoghurt)
Vitamin D: Required for Calicum and phosphorous metabolism and for healthy bones and teeth (Sunshine. Skim milk)
Folic Acid: It is required for cell division, production of red blood cells and transmission of genetic code to offspring (Liver, spinach leaves, wheat bran)
Iron: Necessary component of hemoglobin, the protein that transports oxygen. If deficient, you are likely to fatigue easily (Lean beef, chicken breast)
Magnesium: Important in energy metabolism, maintaining a healthy nervous system, blood vessels and regulation of blood sugar nutes (Whole wheat bread, wheat bran)
Zinc: Part of > 100 enzymes needed for proper body function. Essential for removing CO2 from your muscles (Pork, turkey breast)
Why and How of Supplements
Why? Signs that you may be lacking in certain nutrients can include symptoms like ongoing fatigue, recurrent illnesses or slow-to-heal injuries.
How? Each persons nutritional needs are different, and you should first consult with your doctor or a qualified sports dietitian for a nutrition assessment.
* It may be recommended that you complete a food diary.
* A sports dietitian can analyze the food diary to determine if extra nutrients are needed.
* Consult your doctor to check for medical reasons for deficiencies.
* Blood tests may be required to accurately determine the extent of the problem and to
assist your team to determine the best supplementation for your needs.
* Athletes must comply with the tennis anti-doping program and are 100% responsible for any sport drink or supplement they take.
In 2006, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour entered into an agreement with USANA Health Sciences to provide vitamins, minerals and other nutritional supplements to their members. USANA guarantees that products supplied to Sony Ericsson WTA players under their Athlete Guarantee Program are free of substances on the WADA Prohibited List.
USANA products available to players include:
* Body Rox TM and Essentials (multivitamin and mineral supplements)
* Active Calcium (Calcium supplement)
- Poly C (vitamin C supplement).
* Procosa II (glucosamine supplement)
A dietitian and USANA scientists are available throughout the year and attend 4-5 tournaments per year to consult with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour players and answer any questions they may have regarding their nutrition and how it relates to their health and performance.
Thanks to Susie Parker-Simmons for advice on the dietary part of this topic
Sports Dietitian (RD) & Physiologist
Sony Ericsson WTA Tour