10 Essential Nutrients for Athletes

November 03, 2022

A healthy and balanced diet combined with fitness training is the basis for becoming a successful athlete capable of making progress every day. 

That's why it's vital to talk about the nutrients for athletes that you should include in your daily diet. Do you want to know what these nutrients are and what is the main benefit of their consumption? We will tell you about them in the following text. 

Nutrients for athletes: Which ones are the best?

  1. B vitamins 

These vitamins are related to energy production and fatigue reduction, so they are ideal for runners. They include vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B7, B9, and, above all, B12.

  • Vitamin B12 is essential for athletes' recovery and is abundant in foods such as sardines, rabbit meat, or mussels.

  • Vitamins B9 and B12 are also present in carrots, lettuce, or tomatoes.

  • Vitamin B1 is abundant in eggs or peanuts, and vitamin B2 is present in almonds.

  • Vitamin B3 can be consumed through brown rice. In addition, vitamin B5 is perfect for worn-out immune systems and is found in seeds and grains. 

  • Vitamin C

It is best known for reducing cold and flu symptoms in winter, but this vitamin is also recommended for runners because it helps to improve bone health, reduce fatigue and tiredness and improve iron absorption, which is another essential nutrient for athletes. Foods rich in vitamin C are oranges, kiwis, red peppers, strawberries, and broccoli. 

However, you can also buy vitamin C supplements when working out or running as your body will need more of this antioxidant vitamin. The recommended daily dose of vitamin C for athletes is 1000 to 2000mg, but some take up to 3000 mg. 

  • Vitamin D

This vitamin reduces the risk of bone fractures and accelerates the recovery process after an injury. It is present in certain fish such as anchovies and eggs. In addition, the sun is the source of energy that can bring more vitamin D to the skin, so do not hesitate to run in suspenders and shorts whenever it's sunny outside

  • Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that will help you avoid premature exhaustion. Besides being excellent for bone, hair, and skin health, vitamin E is a powerful ally of athletes with high performance as it promotes endurance and pushes personal performative limits without suffering injuries. Almonds, sunflower seeds, avocado, squash, trout, and shrimp are some of the foods with the highest content of vitamin E that you can introduce to your diet. 

  • Vitamin K 

This is perfect for female runners because of its effect on bone resorption. Where to find it? In green leafy vegetables. Vitamin K prevents Calcium from building in the arteries and helps the mineral promote bone health. 

  • Calcium 

This is another of the most popular nutrients for its positive effect on bones. It is present in dairy products, salmon, green leafy vegetables, and nuts, among others. Calcium is a crucial mineral for bone formation and skeletomuscular health. 

  • Fiber

Oatmeal and whole-grain products are natural sources of fiber that will bring you invaluable benefits. For example, their consumption before a race or a long or intense workout can increase an athlete's performance and prevent muscles from tearing and causing severe injury. 

Fibers also minimize indigestion and gasses, important for full-power performance whether in recreational or professional athletes. 

  • Iron 

Iron is one of the essential nutrients for runners. Iron is responsible for producing hemoglobin in red blood cells and this, in turn, is responsible for transporting oxygen to the tissues and carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs, where it ends up being eliminated. In addition, iron is an essential nutrient in the synthesis of myoglobin, a special protein that stores and manages oxygen in the muscles.

It is usually very low in women, so lentils, soybeans, spinach, chard, chicken, fish, whole grains, and clams must be part of female athletes' diet. 

  • Magnesium and potassium

These two nutrients are ideal for managing proper muscle contraction. However, they reduce when you sweat and exercise, so you can start consuming more bananas and sweet potatoes if you're working out regularly.

  • Omega-3

Salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel are some of the highest Omega-3 content foods. Omega-3-rich foods and supplements can prevent the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in high-performance athletes, especially if consumed in a fish oil form or capsules. Enhanced athletic performance is another benefit of Omega-3 for athletes, as well as bone and heart health, essential for endurance during strenuous sessions. 

Final Word

Vitamins and minerals such as all vitamins B, vitamin C, vitamin K, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, and Magnesium, are essential nutrients for optimal athletic performance and health. 

The list won't be complete without fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids that every high-performing athlete needs for obtaining more energy and impeccable bone and muscle structure.