THE BLOG
19/11/2015 12:30 GMT | Updated 19/11/2016 05:12 GMT

The Power of Micronutrients

Okay class, settle down. Time for some good stuff about Micronutrients!

What you will have recalled from an earlier lesson on the subject of nutrition, is that getting the right nutrition aligned to the correct diet, accounts for some 65% of any successful exercise plan. Quite simply put, if you don't eat the right food to support the hard work you are doing in the gym or out in the park, then in plain terms, "you ain't going to get anywhere fast!"

So in order to help you, help yourselves, you need to have a fundamental understanding about a few things nutritional.

Micronutrients are those nutrients we require in relatively small quantities. They are vitamins and minerals and our good health requires them in milligram and/or microgram amounts.

Fats, carbohydrates and proteins are macronutrients, meaning that we require them in relatively large quantities. We consume macronutrients in gram amounts. For example, we might have 200 grams of carbohydrate, 100 grams of protein and 50 grams of fat, yet for Micronutrients, it is always in milligrams or micrograms- 18 mg of iron and 400 micrograms of foliate.

Vitamins are carbon-containing molecules and are classified as either water-soluble or fat-soluble. They can be changed and inactivated by heat, oxygen, light and chemical processes. The amount of vitamins in a food depends on the growing conditions, processing, storage and cooking methods.

Minerals do not contain carbon and are not destroyed by heat or light. Unlike other nutrients, minerals are in their simplest chemical form. Minerals are elements. Whether found in bone, seashells, cast iron pots or the soil, they are the same as the minerals in our food and our bodies. The mineral content of plant foods varies with the soil content and the maturation of the plant.

Micronutrients are called thus because they are needed only in minuscule amounts. These substances are the "magic wands" that enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for proper growth and development. As tiny as the amounts are, however, the consequences of their absence are severe.

Therefore it is critical not to overlook the power of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) when devising a plan for increased muscle and improved health. We require specific nutrients to act as catalysts and regulators for growth, which is where micronutrients play a key role.

The following five micronutrients play a pivotal role and should be part of your daily diet.

Fortunately they are all found in some basic staples.

ZINC:

Necessary for macronutrient metabolism and testosterone homeostasis. Adequate dietary zinc has been found to improve dynamic strength among strength trainers. Zinc levels can decrease during physical training, both via excretion through sweat and from muscle trauma. Due to zinc being present in many protein food sources, deficiency should be easily avoidable for a bodybuilder, but it is important that the food source is varied. Good sources of zinc include: Dairy, Eggs, Brazil Nuts, Red Meat.

MAGNESIUM:

Anaerobic activities, such as weight training, have been linked with serum loss of magnesium. In a similar way to zinc, loss of magnesium occurs through sweating, meaning that the aspiring weight trainer would do well to ensure adequate intake of magnesium (although deficiency is rare). Sources of magnesium include: Whole grains, Spinach, Bean and Pulses, Nuts, Sunflower seeds, Red Meat.

CALCIUM:

Calcium is necessary for a strong skeletal system, for increased fat oxidation, and for assisting in nerve transmission and muscle contraction. Exercise provides a 'catch 22' situation for the strength trainer with regards to calcium: it increases the body's ability to absorb calcium, yet it can also increase excretion. The bodybuilder should ensure adequate calcium is ingested. Sources include dairy, yoghurt, leafy green vegetables, soybeans (cooked), mackerel, almonds and salmon.

POTASSIUM:

Potassium assists with muscle contraction, helps maintain fluid homeostasis, and promotes glycogen synthesis. It also provides a catalyst for the formation of muscle protein from ingested amino acids; a big plus for a strength trainer. Good sources include Bananas, Potatoes, Asparagus, Dairy, Beans.

'ACE' VITAMINS AND SELENIUM:

Five servings of fruit and vegetables per day should be your minimum; with 7-8 more appropriate. Ensure a variety of fruits and vegetables are consumed, particularly citrus fruits, leafy green and brightly coloured (orange and reds) vegetables for C and A plus oily fish and nuts and seeds for vitamin E.

Linked to increased resting energy expenditure, a positive outcome for a person trying to cut body fat. Good sources of Selenium include Wheat germ, Tuna, Nuts and Brown Rice.