Vitamins & minerals
– important substances for the body’s building blocks.
Vitamins and minerals are among the type of nutrients that must be gotten through our diet if we want to avoid deficiency diseases. They are also a part of the body’s building blocks, but we do not need them in as big quantities as for example proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Most of the 13 vitamins the body needs are gotten naturally in small doses through our diet, similar to how we get minerals, also called trace elements. If our diet, for various reasons, is not varied enough, this can cause deficiency diseases. Similarly to how our muscles become less strong if they do not get enough protein, the body becomes less able to resist certain illnesses if it is suffering from a lack of vitamins or minerals.
According to studies our bodies, both before and during exercising, don’t only need extra water but also important minerals so as to perform to their highest capacity.
Through our normal healthy diet we often get enough vitamins, but some vitamins are more difficult to get than others. The human body does not have the ability to produce vitamin C, which is, among other things, important for our metabolism and connective tissues. An orange contains approximately one day’s need for vitamin C, but also strawberries, bell pepper and papaya carry high amounts of this vitamin. Cabbage, leek and raspberries also contain a large portion of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C. Normally it is not a problem to get enough vitamin C, but a dietary supplement can give an extra boost when needed, especially in the mornings. Vitamin C also contributes to making the absorption of iron easier, and can reduce the risk for depression symptoms. Just as with vitamin C, our bodies also need relatively large amounts of vitamin D. Our natural source of vitamin D is the sun which, as you know, can be hard to come by during the winter months in Northern Europe. A lack of vitamin D can cause tiredness and a weaker immune system. Vitamin D as a dietary supplement is then especially good during the darker parts of the year, and can also provide relief for acne, rheumatism, eczema and psoriasis. Vitamin supplements in all forms can be appropriate, and they are used both to increase our performance in physical activity and as a useful supplement.
Minerals are, among other things, a part of our hormonal system, and essential to the body’s structure. Iron and Calcium are the most important minerals. Iron is one of the components in our blood, and thus plays a central part in our very survival. Calcium is necessary for healthy and functioning teeth and bones. For women it is especially important to get a supplement of iron when menstruating, as the body is losing iron. Iron can be gotten through foods such as broccoli, meat and eggs and through dietary supplements. A lack of calcium can lead to a loss of teeth, and with age, brittle bones and osteoporosis. It is especially important to get extra calcium during breastfeeding, as a lot of it is naturally given through the milk to the baby.
Minerals and exercise
We all know that an ideal diet is a balanced one, and that it contains a large variety of fruit and vegetables. We also know that ideally we should get regular exercise. People often overlook the fact that when we exercise we need fuel, and the more we exercise and the more intense our workout, the more fuel we need. But simply consuming more calories is not the answer. To help us deal with increased stress and damage on the body caused by working out, we need more of those nutrients that help repair and maintain our bodies. For our bodies to function optimally in our everyday life, it is essential that we get sodium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Other important minerals are iron, manganese, zinc, selenium and iodine. The mineral we need most of is sodium, which is most often consumed in the form of sodium chloride, or regular salt. But which minerals are important when exercising? According to studies our bodies, both before and during exercising, don’t only need extra water but also important minerals so as to perform to their highest capacity. These important minerals are especially sodium and potassium, which contribute to stimulating the muscles and nervous system. Studies also show that the sports drinks that are best at hydrating the body after a workout contain water, sugar, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, amino acids, thiols and vitamins, and that these can also contribute to better performance during exercise. You can learn more about these studies and find references on eqology.com.