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5 Common Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies in Athletes & Fit Adults

If you are like many people, you eat your fruits and veggies.  You eat healthy fats and proteins and carbs.  Yet, something still feels like it's missing from your diet. That's because it is!  

Our food just isn't as nutrient dense as it once was.  

Our lifestyle and environment is changing faster than we can evolve, keeping us behind the curve.

If you are a mother, carrying a child in your womb, delivering and breastfeeding forces your body to use essential vitamins and minerals to complete these tasks (and it gives them to your baby before you, possibly causing mineral deficiencies).  

Stress levels are rising as the world becomes more and more competitive, depleting people of essential vitamins and minerals.

To combat this, to have a competitive advantage, and to be healthy and fit: 

  • we eat a clean whole food diet
  • we exercise and train

Unfortunately this isn't enough; we simply just can't get enough of certain vitamins and minerals from our diet alone. And your exercise and training can actually lead to further deficiencies!

Keep reading to learn what the common vitamin and mineral deficiencies are and some great food sources to help prevent a deficiency.  And if all else fails, you can get some natural supplements to help cover any gaps!

Also, if at any time you think you may have vitamin and mineral deficiencies, we highly recommend you get a blood test (through your doctor) to check your levels and create a plan that fits your life.

5 Common Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies in Athletes & Fit Adults

Magnesium

It is estimated that close to 50% of people do not get enough magnesium in their diet!

Magnesium is needed for healthy bones, heart, muscles, and nerves. It helps your body control energy, blood sugarblood pressure, and many other processes.

It is lost in sweat, so it is especially important to athletes and fit adults.

There are some good food options below to get more magnesium into your diet, but supplements are also available to cover any dietary short comings.

Food Sources of Magnesium
    • Oats

    • Dark green leafy vegetables

    • Yogurt

    • Nuts

    • Beans

    • Avocados

Zinc

Roughly 40% of athletes do not get enough zinc in their diets!

Zinc is needed for proper immune function, sexual health, and cell production and repair.  Your zinc needs increase with your sexual activity and with exercise since it is lost in sweat.  

There are some good food options below to get more zinc into your diet, but supplements are also available to cover any dietary short comings.

Food Sources of Zinc
    • red meat
    • poultry
    • seeds
    • wild rice
    • oysters

Vitamin D

Athletes and fit adults are not at any higher risk for Vitamin D deficiency than everyone else; they just aren't immune to the issue.

Roughly 42% of all people are deficient in Vitamin D. And this number drastically increases as you live further away from the equator, by how much sunlight your area gets annually, as you age, and with how dark your skin is!

Also, wearing sunscreen blocks your body's ability to naturally produce Vitamin D from sun exposure.

There are some food options to get Vitamin D, but it is highly likely you will need to supplement with a high quality Vitamin D3 supplement to maintain healthy levels.

Food Sources of Vitamin D
    • fatty fish (salmon, tuna, etc...)
    • egg yolks
    • dairy products fortified with Vitamin D

Iron

Roughly 25% of all people are deficient in iron. Athletes aren't any more susceptible, but they are impacted more by the deficiency since iron is a component of hemoglobin, myoglobin, cytochromes, and various enzymes in the muscle cells - all of which are involved in the transport and metabolism of oxygen for aerobic energy production.

This means fatigue, shortness of breath, and potentially heart palpitations and anemia.

Your risk for deficiency increases to 30-47% if you are a young child, a menstruating female, and vegan or vegetarian.  

Additionally, there are two types of iron: Heme (from animal foods) and Non-Heme (from plant sources). Heme is easily absorbed by the body and non-heme is not.  That is why vegans and vegetarians are at higher risk for deficiency.

Here are some food sources of iron, but if you still think you may be coming up short, then turn to a high quality natural supplement.

Food Sources of Iron
    • Meat (heme)
    • Fish (heme)
    • Beans (non-heme)
    • Dark leafy greens (non-heme)

Calcium

Upwards of 80% of people do not get enough calcium in their diets!

And it is worse for athletes and fit adults, because calcium is lost in sweat.

You probably are familiar with the bone health implications with calcium, but did you know it is a signalling molecule too?  Which means it helps your heart, muscles, and nerves function properly.  

Depending on how much you are sweating, you may need to supplement. 

Food Sources of Calcium
    • Milk, cheese, and other dairy products
    • Whey protein (Propello Life Whey Protein)
    • Dark leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, etc...)

Other Common Deficiencies that Effect People

Iodine

Iodine deficiency is a growing concern effecting roughly 1/3 the world's population.  While it is more of a concern for people in other countries, people in the US still need to be mindful. 

Soil depletion, exposure to certain toxins (bromine & bromides, chlorine & chlorides, and fluorides), and soy effect our levels of iodine.  Vegans and vegetarians need to be careful due to soil depletion.

Monitoring your iodine levels is important because of its role helping the thyroid make thyroid hormones.  These hormones play roles in growth, brain development, bone maintenance, and metabolic rate.

There are some good food sources of iodine, but if you feel you need more you can turn to your doctor about your options.

Food Sources of Iodine
    • Yogurt
    • Cod
    • Kelp & Seaweed

Vitamin B12

Vegetarians and vegans also need to be mindful of their Vitamin B12 consumption, and it affects many other people as well. 

Expecting and new moms should be careful; especially if you plan to exclusively breastfeed due to the increased needs of both mom and baby.

Some of the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include weakness, tiredness, lightheadedness, pale skin, smooth tongue, constipation, numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and more. 

There are some good food sources of vitamin B12, but if you feel you need more you can turn to your doctor about your options.

Food Sources of Vitamin B12
    • Meat
    • Eggs
    • Milk products

Final Thoughts on Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies

More and more people are becoming deficient in vitamins and minerals.  Athletes and fit adults also have specific risks.

Food alone isn't cutting it due to soil depletion and increasing needs based on our lifestyle and environment.

Rising stress levels is also increasing the needs of certain vitamin and minerals.

We recommend you get an annual blood test to monitor your levels of key vitamin and minerals.  Additionally, if you just aren't feeling "right," we also recommend you get tested. 

You just might feel better if you get all of your vitamins and minerals where they need to be!

 

References:

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/magnesium-test#1

https://furthermore.equinox.com/articles/2017/05/deficiency

https://www.healthline.com/health/zinc-deficiency#treating-zinc-deficiency

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15050-vitamin-d--vitamin-d-deficiency

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-common-nutrient-deficiencies#section1

 https://products.mercola.com/iodine-supplement/

https://www.webmd.com/diet/vitamin-b12-deficiency-symptoms-causes#1

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