By Puja Gupta
New Delhi– In the world of health and fitness, a balanced diet coupled with a healthy lifestyle is the foundation for athletes to build on their bodies, keep their energy levels high to beat fatigue and perform at their best. While all vitamins and minerals are crucial and essential for the overall health and fitness, here are the top seven nutrients that are very instrumental in building performance for athletes, suggested by Rohit Shelatkar, VP at Vitabiotics Ltd and Fitness & Nutrition Expert
Omega 3 fatty acids help regulate one’s hormones and the heart rate, and lower blood pressure. The biggest source of omega 3 is fish oils, which are very good for cardiovascular health besides strengthening the muscles and joints. They also act as good supplements to one’s mental health.
Magnesium regulates neuromuscular, cardiovascular, immune, and hormonal functioning. Lack of magnesium in an athlete’s diet can lead to muscle weakness and fatigue, injury and can affect one’s mental well-being. Good sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, fruits like bananas, figs, avocado and raspberries, nuts and seeds, legumes, seafood and vegetables like peas, broccoli, brussels, and sprouts among others.
The kind of high intensity training undertaken by athletes puts a lot of pressure on the bones and joints. Fragile bones will eventually lead to injuries and impair development. That is why Vitamin D3 is very essential for increasing calcium absorption and strengthening the immune system (by fighting free radicals). Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D but there are foods rich in Vitamin D like egg yolks, fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon, soy milk, cheese among others.
B-vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine (B6), pantothenic acid, biotin, folate, and B12, are important requirements for any athlete because they are involved in energy production while working out and micro-nutrients like folate and B12 are required to produce red blood cells, protein synthesis, and in tissue repair and maintenance. Popular sources of vitamins are whole grains, eggs and dairy products, red meat, fish, legumes, seeds and nuts, and dark leafy vegetables among others.
Very active individuals and athletes who train for more than 6 hours every day need to be wary of iron-deficiency anaemia because they would be burning their iron stores faster than sedentary and non-athletic people. Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. Rapid loss of iron will reduce endurance and make one dull and lethargic. Foods like dark green leafy vegetables, lentils, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains and dry fruits are rich sources of iron.
Vitamin C has immune-boosting properties and is especially an essential vitamin for athletes training outdoors because it prevents airborne viruses and common colds. Rich sources of Vitamin C are citrus fruits and strawberries, and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and capsicum among others.
While Vitamin E does not improve overall athletic performance, it is an important antioxidant for athletes because it prevents oxidative cellular damage, reduces the risk of picking up viruses from public spaces, increases one’s anaerobic threshold, lowers output of pentane and lactic acid, and eases muscle cramps that can happen during physical activity. Dark green leafy vegetables and fish or foods that contain fat are high sources of vitamin E. (IANS)