Your micronutrients need love too. Tone House RD Ryan Turner explains which micronutrients to focus on and how to make sure you’re getting enough.
By: Tone House Sports Dietitian Ryan Turner
You’re probably aware of your macronutrients, but are you overlooking your micronutrients? Vitamins and minerals, like B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, sodium or selenium, are just as vital to your body. Though the amount needed may be small, they are critical to regulating many different body processes that promote optimal recovery from workouts, muscle maintenance, focus at work, and overall health in general.
It’s not rare to be deficit in one or more of these micronutrients, as current fad diets and restrictive eating habits can involve removing beneficial foods from your daily intake. Fat is needed to absorb some critical micronutrients and carbohydrates are essential to provide those micronutrients our body requires. The first signs of a deficiency may be stomach upset, fatigue, even changes in physical appearance may show up. Micronutrients don’t supply energy directly like macronutrients do, but they do play a large role in energy production. Suboptimal vitamin status is likely in the western diet, and that includes our Athletes hitting the Turf. A diet analysis or blood work can help uncover these deficiencies.
Micronutrients for performance include iron, B12, B9 (folate), vitamin D, sodium, magnesium, calcium, vitamin K, vitamin C, zinc, selenium, and potassium. This isn’t an exhaustive list, though definitely includes many of the big players so to speak.
So, do I advise that you take a daily supplement? It’s been found that even when adults take in the recommended “five servings of fruits and vegetables per day” their folate and vitamin D were sub-optimal. What that may mean is that the quality of those fruit, vegetables, and starches as well, are important to not overlook. When we consume higher soluble fiber vegetables (like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, and carrots) and fruits (mango, blackberries, pear, oranges, and apricots) we are increasing much of those necessary micronutrients vs eating just romaine lettuce and half a banana. Next time you order a “salad” be aware of what is or isn’t in it. Fearing starches is common, though they are necessary for our athletes. Plan to incorporate beans, oats, or potato in at least one meal a day to start. Eating enough fiber from vegetables, fruits, and starches can supply you with iron, B9 (folate), vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium.
Protein is mentioned ad nauseam, but the truth is, most individuals I meet with are deficit in their protein intake. Optimal protein intake may be challenging for some, but by prioritizing protein in your food choices you’ll provide your body with B12, iron, calcium, vitamin D, selenium, and sodium.
Lastly, hydration can easily be overlooked. A 1-2% decrease in body water could lead to a drop in performance, impaired mental awareness, and coordination. for a 150 pound person, even a 1.5-3 pound drop in weight from body water can lead to any of the mentioned challenges – and that can happen within a day. A weight change this small can easily occur if you’re not hydrating adequately, eating foods like vegetables and fruit that provide water, are a menstruating female, or consuming alcohol in large amounts. Start by understanding how much water, coffee, unsweetened tea, and seltzer you normally drink and then compare that to the amount that may benefit you most, half your body weight in ounces per day.
What can you do to make sure you’re eating toward your micronutrient needs?
- Consume the optimal amount of protein daily: 0.8-1.1 grams protein per pound
- Consume higher soluble fiber foods to get 30-38 grams fiber per day
- Consume at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day and replace between 1-2 liters of water after high heart rate, sweating activity
- Once you’ve confirmed this is happening, and blood work shows deficiencies, a conversation about supplementation should be scheduled
If you have any other questions, concerns, or would like further nutrition counseling contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For daily updates on relevant nutrition topics, follow me on Instagram @foodisfuelnyc.