Vitamins and Minerals
There are mixed opinions if athletes need higher amounts of vitamins and minerals or if they can get enough through diet. Some athletes may be at a higher risk for nutrient deficiencies if their diet is not adequate in calories or unbalanced. Females, in particular, are at risk for iron deficiency anemia and bone-related injuries from low calcium and/or vitamin D intake. Eating foods high in these nutrients is important, and supplements may be warranted under a health professional’s care.
Getting adequate amounts of these nutrients if you are low can improve recovery time and prevent injury, not to mention improve athletic performance. Iron-rich foods include red meat, spinach, and whole grains. Calcium-rich foods include leafy greens and fatty fish with small bones.
If you are vegetarian or vegan and get 100% of your mineral intake from vegetables, it is recommended you blanch your greens quickly before eating them. Blanching removes most of the oxalic acid, an “antinutrient” which binds iron, zinc, and calcium in the gut and makes them unavailable. People who eat meat should get adequate minerals without needing to prepare their vegetables in a special way.