Previously, we talked about the importance and effect of vitamins in performance. We now move on to minerals. Fundamentally, minerals are broken into different categories based on their function; Major, Trace and Ultra-trace minerals. Despite the fact that minerals only contribute only about ~4% of total body weight, their functions are vital for cellular activity, energy metabolism, osmotic properties of body fluids and contribution to teeth and bones.
The major minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride. Major minerals are found in greater amounts in the body requiring ~100mg/day by adults. Moreover, sodium, chloride, and potassium are the minerals that regulate electrolyte balance.
Trace minerals are called trace because they needed by small amounts in the body, less than 100mg/day. In addition, if amounts required are less than 1mg/day, they are called Ultra-trace minerals. Trace minerals include Iron, Zinc, Copper, Fluoride, and Manganese while Ultra-trace minerals include Selenium, Iodine, Molybdenum and Chromium.
*Note other Trace and Ultra-trace minerals will not be discussed because not much is known about the need for them by the body.
Discussed will be the most common minerals utilized in athletic performance. Minerals in the body act as cofactors which are need during metabolism and for other bodily functions such transport of molecules. Some minerals are useful during performance while the rest are needed for overall health, but make no mistake, their role in the body is crucial for all of us. The chart below outlines common minerals used for performance, and its major function, role, etc.
In summary, chromium and zinc are the two most important minerals in glucose metabolism therefore making these minerals essential in our diets, especially in athletes. Magnesium is of importance because of its function in protein and fatty acid synthesis and 300 other enzymatic reactions. However, too much intake of magnesium will decrease absorption of phosphorus, an essential mineral. The electrolytes are obviously crucial in athletic performance so adequate amounts must be consumed pre, during, and post-workouts. If you’re eating a well-balanced diet, then mineral supplementation may not be necessary but a waste of money. For example, like mentioned above, if you supplement with magnesium in large doses (>600mg) then absorption of phosphorus declines about 50%. Furthermore, your body may not absorb all the mineral content so it’s just gets urinated along with your money. Another example would be too much Zinc causing a deficiency in copper or iron, both important for our health. Eat a well-balanced diet and keep training hard.
Gropper S. Sareen, Smith L. Jack, Carr P. Timothy. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. 7th Edition. 2016
By Jesse Rodriguez
Jesse’s focus and emphasis is on Sports Nutrition. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science with the addition of a CSCS certification from the NSCA. Jesse swam for the El Salvador National Team and competed at the international level. Jesse has worked at USC with the Strength and Conditioning program and UCLA as the lead intern for Sports Nutrition. He is currently a dietetic intern to complete requirements for the Registered Dietitian exam and obtain his professional license. During his free time, Jesse continues to strength train, Olympic lift, and stay up-to-date on the latest nutrition trends. Lastly, Jesse is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.