09 Jan Mineral supplements gain ground in sports performance trials
Mineral supplements and enhanced sports performance isn’t usually a combination you’d see in the spotlight. In fact, there has been almost zero scientific evidence available to support the claims that mineral supplements enhance an athlete’s aerobic performance – until recently.
A 2017 clinical trial based on supplementing recreationally active women with three chelated mineral enhancements has proven that these particular minerals can, in fact, increase aerobic performance in exercise.
Published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, results of the trial confirm that increased micronutrient intake can indeed boost sports performance. Lead researcher in the trial, Robert A. DiSilvestro has since expressed a financial interest in the development of a supplement product based on the findings of his research.
In this case, the near future could see a mineral supplement – the first of its kind – make its way to the market for increased athletic performance.
Mineral supplements: how do they aid in athletic performance?
Traditionally, minerals have never been considered effective in actually boosting overall athletic performance. Rather, they have been considered to be extremely important for athletic recovery –preparing the body to perform at its best.
Minerals are micronutrients which play a vital role in the production of energy in our bodies. Aside from this, minerals aid in important functions such as haemoglobin synthesis, maintaining bone health, adequate immune function and protection against oxidative damage.
But most importantly in this instance, minerals assist in the synthesis and repair of muscle tissue during recovery from exercise and injury.
Increased amounts of exercise see the body losing an increased amount of micronutrients due to exercise stress. In this case, those who train more often, are encouraged to increase their intake of restorative minerals.
What type of minerals have been proven to boost athletic performance?
During the trial, iron, copper and zinc, combined with two trace minerals known as carnitine and phosphatidylserine (popular minerals in sports nutrition) proved to be effective in boosting athletic performance.
It was found that the combination of these chelated minerals helped to improve the metabolisation of energy during exercise, while combating oxidative stress i.e. muscle tiredness or damage.
Important mineral supplements for athletic recovery
The most common vitamins and minerals found to be of concern in athletes’ diets are calcium and vitamin D, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, as well as some antioxidants such as vitamins C and E.
Athletes at greatest risk of poor recovery from exercise and, in turn, a decreased performance rate, are those who restrict their energy intake, have severe weight-loss practices or eliminate one or more of the food groups from their diet.
How are these minerals beneficial?
Calcium: especially important for growth, maintenance and repair of bone tissue, maintenance of blood calcium levels, regulation of muscle contraction, nerve conduction and normal blood clotting.
Iron: required for the formation of oxygen-carrying proteins, haemoglobin and myoglobin, and for energy production. Oxygen-carrying capacity is essential for endurance exercise as well as normal function of the nervous, behavioural and immune systems.
Zinc: plays a role in growth, building and repair of muscle tissue, energy production, and immune status. A low zinc status has been shown to directly affect thyroid hormone levels, BMR, and protein use, which in turn can negatively affect health and physical performance.
Magnesium: plays a variety of roles in cellular metabolism, while a magnesium deficiency impairs endurance performance by increasing oxygen requirements in the body. Athletes in weight-class and body-conscious sports, such as wrestling, ballet, gymnastics and tennis are known to consume inadequate dietary magnesium. This is why supplementation is so important
The clinical trial and its findings, cited that trace mineral supplements as well as a healthy diet, can boost athletic performance during exercise. Further research is clearly justified to determine the results on the efficacy of alternative combinations of micronutrients in athletic performance.