Minerals in a runners diet. How to ensure their appropriate level?


Minerals are an extremely important element of a runner’s diet. During intense training, we lose water and mineral salts, which causes significant deficiencies in individual minerals in our body. So don’t forget to complete them! Practicing sports may cause an increased demand for minerals in the diet. This involves, among others, a large loss of fluids (and therefore minerals) with sweat and the intensification of many processes taking place in the body.

Much of this demand is met by an appropriate diet, but sometimes supplementation is necessary. Importantly, however, an overdose of minerals may be as harmful as a deficiency.

Minerals are elements that are necessary for the proper functioning of the body. Divided into macroelements (needed in relatively large doses) and microelements, or trace elements (needed in microscopic quantities). The former are, for example, calcium, magnesium, potassium, the latter – iron, selenium, copper, and zinc. In total, the elements make up about 4% of the composition of our entire body, most of which is calcium.

Macroelements supplied with water

Sodium
Sodium is an element found in water, basically in all water. We owe it to him to maintain the balance of fluids in the body. It is also responsible for the acid-base balance, maintaining muscles in good condition, and conducting nerve impulses. We certainly lose a lot of it during each running training, so it wouldn’t hurt to replenish it. Sodium is found in many dishes, so you don’t really need to worry about its supply. Athletes who flush out large amounts of it during training are different. Salted snacks (black olives, pretzels) and a diet rich in cheese and fish are essential for them. It is also worth sometimes considering adding a pinch of table salt to the water used for training.

Potassium
Potassium is also worth paying attention to, if only because it increases the permeability of cell membranes, and in cooperation with sodium, it ensures proper fluid management, which is no less important for a runner than running itself. The richest sources of potassium are bananas, apricots, broccoli, and spinach, as well as carrots and dried fruits.

Magnesium
There are many meanings of magnesium, but we should focus on the basic ones. Muscle spasms and heart problems are not welcome. Magnesium will allow us to keep intensively working muscles in good condition, as well as prevent the formation of clots and improve the operation of the most important pump in our body. Its food sources include cocoa, nuts, buckwheat, pumpkin seeds, beans, peas, and corn.

Calcium
The presence of calcium in the body determines not only the mineralization of our bones, but also the functioning of our defense functions, the process of blood clotting and muscle contraction, and the conduction of electrical impulses in nerve cells. Calcium is best absorbed with protein, lactose, and vitamins. D. Its richest sources are yellow cheese, white cheese, milk, sardines, cress, eggs, beets, legumes, nuts, and cabbage.

woman pouring water into glass

It takes an active part in thermoregulation. Necessary for the proper conduction of nerve impulses. Its deficiency is common, also among athletes, and may lead, among others, to: osteoporosis, and earlier – e.g. to muscle spasms. Its requirement is 900-1500 mg per day, but in children and newborns even 20-50 grams per day! Deficiency – disorders related to the bone structure (e.g. spine curvature), muscle and allergic problems, numbness in the limbs, faster fatigue, and poor blood clotting. Its absorption is reduced by coffee, tea, alcohol, and acids found in fruits and vegetables. Maximum absorption from food is 30-40%.

Microelements

Iron
It was iron that attracted a lot of attention. After all, it is part of hemoglobin and myoglobin. These compounds are responsible for providing oxygen to the used muscle. Hemoglobin occurs in erythrocytes and binds oxygen carried from the lungs to release it in the tissue that has a higher demand. Therefore, iron is extremely important, especially in aerobic sports such as running. Iron from animal products is best absorbed by us, so it is worth including meat and liver in your diet. In addition, we can find a lot of it in fish, egg yolks, cottage cheese, nuts, milk, and legumes.

Silicon (Si)
The indispensable ruler of hormones, we can find it most in the endocrine glands. It guarantees proper hormonal balance. Inside the body, it also helps in bone regeneration after fracture and the formation of connective tissue. It occurs in fruit peels. So let’s always eat apples, pears, etc. with the skin. Spring water and oatmeal are also good sources. Horsetail provides us with the most of it, containing as much as 60%. An interesting element from the runner’s point of view, mainly because a large amount of it is found… in beer! Moreover, in water and some vegetables, e.g. carrots and parsley. It is suspected that silicon may delay the aging process and prevent dementia. It certainly takes part in the synthesis of collagen (knees!), which may prove to be important information for a runner and the development of the skeletal system.

Zinc
This element may affect the nervous system and muscle contractions. Vegetarians and people who fast are most at risk of zinc deficiency. The best sources of zinc are meat, fish, oysters, eggs, yeast, vegetables, pumpkin seeds, eggs, and skim milk. The daily requirement is approximately 16 mg per day.

Iodine
It is necessary for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. The deficiency causes its enlargement, i.e. the so-called goiter, and various disorders of its functioning, which, especially in children, may prevent proper psychophysical development. The thyroid gland, among others, takes part in the regulation of metabolism, body temperature, fat and carbohydrate metabolism. The element is not only absorbed from food but also from the air. It is most abundant in the soil and atmosphere near the sea. Mountain inhabitants are more susceptible to its deficiency. To prevent them, iodized salt, i.e. salt with the addition of iodine, is sold in Poland. The most iodine is found in seafood: fish, mollusks, lobsters, etc. It is also found in some mineral waters and eggs, yogurts, cheeses, and kefirs. The daily iodine requirement for adults is approximately 160 micrograms.

Copper
It is necessary for the proper synthesis of hemoglobin; its deficiency, similarly to iron, leads to anemia. Among others, it also affects fat metabolism and iron transport. Fortunately, deficiency is rare and usually has a genetic basis or is the result of poisoning. It may then cause the formation of blood clots, damage to blood vessels, hypertension, lower production of skin and hair pigment, susceptibility to diseases, migraines, and osteoporosis. Its content in the adult human body is approximately 100 milligrams. Copper is quite common in food products, including: in offal, fish, vegetables and fruits, nuts, raisins, and cereal grains. The recommended daily intake is 1.5-3 milligrams for an adult.

Selenium
It works together with vitamin E. It has a detoxifying effect, helps remove harmful heavy metals from the body, such as mercury, arsenic, or cadmium, and also helps neutralize free radicals. It is a microelement whose daily requirement has not been clearly defined, but it is assumed to be approximately 50-70 micrograms. The best sources of selenium are seafood and unrefined sea salt, offal, unrefined grain products, wheat germ, nuts, garlic, and green peas. Its absorption may be reduced by consuming large doses of vitamin C and sweets.

The runner’s diet should include supplementation and drinking mineralized water. Nutritionists recommend multivitamins from good companies as the most balanced and easily digestible. Blood tests can be helpful in detecting deficiencies. Medical diagnosis of deficiency is very important. We do not recommend supplementation on your own, especially with a selected element or vitamin. Firstly, it is easy to overdose, secondly – an excess of some ingredients causes a deficiency of others. If we decide to take, for example, magnesium, we should choose a preparation with an appropriately high dose of the compound. Different types of water contain different amounts of specific minerals that are worth drinking. This can be used by supplementing the mineral deficiencies with some of them. For people who sweat a lot, it may be advisable to drink highly mineralized water.

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