Is Your Diet Rock-Solid? – Oxygen Magazine

Home / Nutrition for Women / Is Your Diet Rock-Solid? – Oxygen Magazine


Most people focus on the big players in the vitamin and mineral game — E, D, B, magnesium, calcium and the like. However, it might just be the little guys that can ultimately help you achieve your goals.

Case in point: the trace minerals iron, zinc and copper. This trio is essential for helping the body transport oxygen, repair muscle and improve immunity, and although the Recommended Daily Allowance for each is pretty small, female athletes often don’t get enough. “Minerals are understudied or underappreciated in terms of sports nutrition,” says Robert DiSilvestro, Ph.D., professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University. This, he adds, is likely the reason they aren’t on many athletes’ radar.

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But they should be: DiSilvestro studied the effects of minerals in a recent paper published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. The study followed 42 fit women for four weeks as they took a supplement containing iron, zinc and copper. At the end of the study, most athletes shaved an average of 54 seconds off their 3-mile run times and increased the distance they could ride on a stationary bike post-run.

Doctor’s Directive

It is difficult to get enough trace minerals from food alone — even more so if you are a plant-based athlete — but still, there is no need to overdo it when supplementing. “No evidence exists that intake above the RDA will enhance performance,” says Michael J. Ormsbee, Ph.D., associate director of the Institute of Sports Sciences and Medicine at Florida State University.

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