A strong immune system that is ready to combat the viruses and germs that we are constantly exposed to, regardless of the season, is the key to a healthy body. Making sure our body receives all the vitamins and minerals it requires to perform at its best is crucial.
Even if the body often obtains the vitamins and minerals it needs from a variety of meals, there are times when it is unable to adequately absorb all the nutrients, which typically results from a vitamin deficiency.
Without vitamin D, the body is unable to absorb calcium, an important mineral that is necessary for the formation of bone tissue and its resistance.
Minerals are inactive chemical elements, like calcium in a rock or iron in a frying pan, but they are essential to the organism for tissue building, activating muscle contractions, nerve impulses, and blood clotting. The acid-base balance that keeps the body’s pH balanced is also maintained by minerals.
– calcium and phosphorus support the growth of the bone structure;
– zinc, magnesium, B6 support your immune system, metabolism and muscle health and improves your sleep and energy;
– potassium and sodium maintain the electrolytic balance;
– iron contributes to the oxygenation of cells;
– chromium contributes to the elimination of glucose from the blood and converts fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy;
– copper helps to use iron in the body;
– iodine contributes to good physical and mental development;
– magnesium maintains the health and functionality of muscles, nerves and bones;
– manganese produces enzymes with a role in metabolizing proteins and fats.
Female athletes: A population at risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies affecting health and performance
Micronutrient deficiencies remain a global health concern. For example, the estimated global anaemia prevalence is 24.8 %, affecting 1.62 billion people. Women may be affected by micronutrient deficiencies to a greater degree than men. Estimated anemia prevalence is 47.4 % in preschool-aged children, 41.8 % in pregnant women and 30.2 % in non-pregnant women.
Although poor nutritional status is most common in the developing world, women in developed nations also experience suboptimal micronutrient status. For example, over 15% of premenopausal women in the United States (US) may be affected by poor iron status.
Female athletes could be at risk for vitamin and mineral insufficiency due to inadequate dietary intake, menstruation, and inflammatory responses to heavy physical activity. Recent studies have documented poor iron status and associated declines in both cognitive and physical performance in female athletes. Similarly, insufficient vitamin D and calcium status have been observed in female athletes, and may be associated with injuries, such as stress fracture, which may limit a female athlete’s ability to participate in regular physical activity.
Female athletes depend upon a healthy and complete diet to provide the nutrients required to maintain and promote physical performance and protect against injury. However, female athletes may experience difficulties in maintaining adequate micronutrient status due to the consumption of energy or nutrient inadequate diets or declines in nutritional status due to heavy physical activity.
Preventing Mineral Deficiencies
People can usually get most or all of what they need to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiency if they eat a balanced diet. However, some people will benefit from supplementation. Many people are not meeting their daily needs for vitamin D, which is not found in many foods.
The skin can synthesize vitamin D when exposed to UV rays from the sun, but indoor desk jobs and the use of sunscreen limit the amount people can produce on their own. Therefore, doctors will sometimes recommend supplements.
Vegetarians and vegans are at a higher risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency because animal foods are the only reliable sources of the nutrient. Women who are pregnant or who are thinking about becoming pregnant may be advised to take a folate supplement to ensure adequate blood levels. If you have a nutrient deficiency or a health condition that puts you at risk of deficiency, your doctor may recommend supplementation of certain nutrients.
Otherwise, eating a calorie-sufficient diet including all the food groups is the best way to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiency. The FDA reports that animal foods, such as poultry, fish, eggs and dairy, are abundant sources of calcium, iron, biotin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin D and vitamin A. Whole grains are rich in the B vitamins, and fruits and vegetables provide vitamins C, E and K. Fortified breads, cereals, milk and orange juice are other ways to get all the nutrients you need.
Study source: PubMed (nih.gov)