Sports Performance — Vitamins and Mineral Electrolytes
IMPROVE YOUR STAMINA & FOCUS — By: Richard Williams, Sports Nutritionist
Sodium is the most important mineral that is lost in sweat during prolonged exercise. Marathon runners are particularly susceptible to hyponatremia, a deficiency of sodium. Other important electrolytes include magnesium, potassium and calcium. In addition to electrolytes, several key vitamins that are important for energy metabolism, including vitamin B3, B5, B6, B12 and folic acid.
Zinc and chromium are co-factors for the enzymes involved in energy production.
Vitamin C and zinc are antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress that occurs after strenuous activity.
Recent studies have shown an increase in plasma homocysteine in athletes after strong physical activity. Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid help reduce homocysteine levels.
Calcium, vitamin C and Aloe vera may also aid in recovery after strenuous physical activity.
Calcium participates in muscle contraction and nerve transmission.
Calcium is a component of bone, and is particularly important for female athletes. [1, 2]
One study showed that one year of supplemental calcium intake prevents cortical but not trabecular bone loss in young adult female distance runners. 
Calcium levels rise and urinary excretion increases after intense exercise. [3, 4] This is due to a burst of osteoclastic (bone destruction) activity, which can be suppressed by calcium supplementation. 
Magnesium is central to muscle relaxation and nerve transmission. Magnesium also activates enzymes involved in energy metabolism.
A significant positive correlation was reported between plasma magnesium and aerobic capacity in male university athletes 
Plasma magnesium concentrations decrease during prolonged, intense exercise, which may reflect redistribution from plasma to the working muscle. 
Magnesium deficiency can result in a significant reduction in exercise performance. 
One study found that magnesium supplementation may benefit strength training.  Another demonstrated improved swimming, cycling, and running times in triathletes. 
Excessive sweating during prolonged exercise can result in an electrolyte imbalance, including a deficiency of sodium (hyponatremia). It is common in marathon runners, cyclists, and hikers.
A recent New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study found that 13 percent of Boston marathon runners studied had a serious imbalance of fluid and electrolytes. 
Several studies have shown that sodium and other alkaline minerals may improve sports performance. [11-17]
Potassium is needed for electrical activity of nerve and muscle cells. Potassium deficiency (hypokalemia) results in muscle weakness, muscle pain, cramping, and fatigue.
Zinc is required by enzymes that for energy metabolism. Zinc is a component of carbonic anhydrase, an acid base balance enzyme, and lactate dehydrogenase, a critical muscle enzyme.
Zinc may reduce post-exercise free radical activity. 
Chromium participates in carbohydrate and fat metabolism. It facilitates insulin action. Chromium may have an anabolic effect on body composition.
Preliminary research in animals suggests that chromium picolinate increases fat loss and lean muscle tissue gain when used with a weight-training program.  However, several recent studies have found little to no effect of chromium on body composition or strength.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Vitamin C may prevent the formation of exercise-induced free radicals. 
Vitamin C to decrease the susceptibility of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) to oxidation during acute exercise [21, 22]
Vitamin C supplementation may exert a protective effect against eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. 
Vitamin C may improve recovery after strenuous endurance exercise [24, 25]
A restricted intake of vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C may lead to decreased endurance capacity within a few weeks. [26, 27]
Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid are needed to reduce homocysteine levels. Several studies have shown an increase in plasma homocysteine in athletes after strong physical activity. [28-31]
Ten male field-track athletes were exercised using a fixed workload treadmill test. Tests showed a consistent low value in the total percentile of vitamins B1, B2, folate, and biotin. 
Supplementation with vitamin B1, B6 and B12 was been found to improve target shooting in marksmen in two different studies. 
Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide)
Vitamin B3 is a constituent of the coenzymes, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP), which are required for energy metabolism.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenate)
Vitamin B5 is involved in the Kreb’s cycle of energy production and is essential in producing, transporting, and releasing energy from fats. Pantothenic acid also activates the adrenal glands. 
One study showed that a mixture of propionyl-L-carnitine (PLC), coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), nicotinamide (NAM), riboflavin and pantothenic acid improved motor performance of skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle in rats. 
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
The metabolically active coenzyme form pyridoxal 5′ phosphate (PLP) is required for protein and fat metabolism, and glycogen phosphorylase to release glucose from muscle glycogen (stored carbohydrates).
Vitamin B6 is needed to reduce homocysteine levels, which may become elevated after strenuous levels.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin B12 is only available from meat, and is particularly needed by vegetarian athletes.
Vitamin B12 is needed to reduce homocysteine levels, which may become elevated after strenuous levels.
One study’s findings suggested that vitamin B12 metabolism may be altered in ultra-endurance runners. 
Folic acid is needed to reduce homocysteine levels, which may become elevated after strenuous levels.
Aloe Vera leaf
Aloe vera contains acemannan, a potent immune stimulant. 
Aloe vera has been used for decades, both topically and internally, to enhance wound repair. 
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These comments are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
1.Winters-Stone, K.M. and C.M. Snow, One year of oral calcium supplementation maintains cortical bone density in young adult female distance runners. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 2004. 14(1): p. 7-17.
2.Guillemant, J., et al., Acute effects of an oral calcium load on markers of bone metabolism during endurance cycling exercise in male athletes. Calcif Tissue Int, 2004. 74(5): p. 407-14.
3.Dressendorfer, R.H., et al., Mineral metabolism in male cyclists during high-intensity endurance training. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 2002. 12(1): p. 63-72.
4.Thorsen, K., et al., Effects of moderate endurance exercise on calcium, parathyroid hormone, and markers of bone metabolism in young women. Calcif Tissue Int, 1997. 60(1): p. 16-20.
5.Lukaski, H.C., et al., Maximal oxygen consumption as related to magnesium, copper, and zinc nutriture. Am J Clin Nutr, 1983. 37(3): p. 407-15.
6.Clarkson, P.M., Minerals: exercise performance and supplementation in athletes. J Sports Sci, 1991. 9 Spec No: p. 91-116.
7.McDonald, R. and C.L. Keen, Iron, zinc and magnesium nutrition and athletic performance. Sports Med, 1988. 5(3): p. 171-84.
8.Brilla, L.R. and T.F. Haley, Effect of magnesium supplementation on strength training in humans. J Am Coll Nutr, 1992. 11(3): p. 326-9.
9.Golf, S.W., S. Bender, and J. Gruttner, On the significance of magnesium in extreme physical stress. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther, 1998. 12 Suppl 2: p. 197-202.
10.Almond, C.S., et al., Hyponatremia among runners in the Boston Marathon. N Engl J Med, 2005. 352(15): p. 1550-6.
11.Linossier, M.T., et al., Effect of sodium citrate on performance and metabolism of human skeletal muscle during supramaximal cycling exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol, 1997. 76(1): p. 48-54.
12.Potteiger, J.A., et al., Sodium citrate ingestion enhances 30 km cycling performance. Int J Sports Med, 1996. 17(1): p. 7-11.
13.Hausswirth, C., et al., Sodium citrate ingestion and muscle performance in acute hypobaric hypoxia. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol, 1995. 71(4): p. 362-8.
14.Cox, G. and D.G. Jenkins, The physiological and ventilatory responses to repeated 60 s sprints following sodium citrate ingestion. J Sports Sci, 1994. 12(5): p. 469-75.
15.McNaughton, L. and R. Cedaro, Sodium citrate ingestion and its effects on maximal anaerobic exercise of different durations. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol, 1992. 64(1): p. 36-41.
16.Tiryaki, G.R. and H.A. Atterbom, The effects of sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate on 600 m running time of trained females. J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 1995. 35(3): p. 194-8.
17.McNaughton, L.R., Sodium citrate and anaerobic performance: implications of dosage. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol, 1990. 61(5-6): p. 392-7.
18.Singh, A., M.L. Failla, and P.A. Deuster, Exercise-induced changes in immune function: effects of zinc supplementation. J Appl Physiol, 1994. 76(6): p. 2298-303.
19.Lefavi, R.G., et al., Efficacy of chromium supplementation in athletes: emphasis on anabolism. Int J Sport Nutr, 1992. 2(2): p. 111-22.
20.Ashton, T., et al., Electron spin resonance spectroscopy, exercise, and oxidative stress: an ascorbic acid intervention study. J Appl Physiol, 1999. 87(6): p. 2032-6.
21.Sanchez-Quesada, J.L., et al., LDL from aerobically-trained subjects shows higher resistance to oxidative modification than LDL from sedentary subjects. Atherosclerosis, 1997. 132(2): p. 207-13.
22.Sanchez-Quesada, J.L., et al., Ascorbic acid inhibits the increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) susceptibility to oxidation and the proportion of electronegative LDL induced by intense aerobic exercise. Coron Artery Dis, 1998. 9(5): p. 249-55.
23.Jakeman, P. and S. Maxwell, Effect of antioxidant vitamin supplementation on muscle function after eccentric exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol, 1993. 67(5): p. 426-30.
24.Peters, E.M., et al., Vitamin C supplementation reduces the incidence of postrace symptoms of upper-respiratory-tract infection in ultramarathon runners. Am J Clin Nutr, 1993. 57(2): p. 170-4.
25.Kaminski, M. and R. Boal, An effect of ascorbic acid on delayed-onset muscle soreness. Pain, 1992. 50(3): p. 317-21.
26.van der Beek, E.J., Vitamins and endurance training. Food for running or faddish claims? Sports Med, 1985. 2(3): p. 175-97.
27.van der Beek, E.J., et al., Thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B6: impact of restricted intake on physical performance in man. J Am Coll Nutr, 1994. 13(6): p. 629-40.
28.Real, J.T., et al., Effects of marathon running on plasma total homocysteine concentrations. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis, 2005. 15(2): p. 134-9.
29.Herrmann, M., et al., Comparison of the influence of volume-oriented training and high-intensity interval training on serum homocysteine and its cofactors in young, healthy swimmers. Clin Chem Lab Med, 2003. 41(11): p. 1525-31.
30.Herrmann, M., et al., Homocysteine increases during endurance exercise. Clin Chem Lab Med, 2003. 41(11): p. 1518-24.
31.Konig, D., et al., Influence of training volume and acute physical exercise on the homocysteine levels in endurance-trained men: interactions with plasma folate and vitamin B12. Ann Nutr Metab, 2003. 47(3-4): p. 114-8.
32.Anyanwu, E.C., J.E. Ehiri, and I. Kanu, Biochemical evaluation of antioxidant function after a controlled optimum physical exercise among adolescents. Int J Adolesc Med Health, 2005. 17(1): p. 57-66.
33.Bonke, D. and B. Nickel, Improvement of fine motoric movement control by elevated dosages of vitamin B1, B6, and B12 in target shooting. Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl, 1989. 30: p. 198-204.
34.Fidanza, A., Therapeutic action of pantothenic acid. Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl, 1983. 24: p. 53-67.
35.Vargiu, R., et al., Enhancement of muscular performance by a coformulation of propionyl-L-carnitine, coenzyme Q10, nicotinamide, riboflavin and pantothenic acid in the rat. Physiol Behav, 2002. 76(2): p. 257-63.
36.Singh, A., et al., Dietary intakes and biochemical profiles of nutritional status of ultramarathoners. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 1993. 25(3): p. 328-34.
37.Yagi, A. and S. Takeo, [Anti-inflammatory constituents, aloesin and aloemannan in Aloe species and effects of tanshinon VI in Salvia miltiorrhiza on heart]. Yakugaku Zasshi, 2003. 123(7): p. 517-32.
38.MacKay, D. and A.L. Miller, Nutritional support for wound healing. Altern Med Rev, 2003. 8(4): p. 359-77.
Baseball’s Epic Strike of 1981 — By Jeff Katz
By Jeff Katz —- Those who think Major League Baseball is simply about theRead More
Improving the Center’s CRUNCH – by Walter Camp
Learn ‘oldtime’ Center-snap position strategies that still work today — by football expert Walter CampRead More