Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Key Nutrients Women Athletes Need

Essential vitamins and minerals women athletes need.
March is National Nutrition Month I've focused quite a bit about how to add organic protein to your training table but how about other nutrients including vitamins and minerals? Don't worry. I've got you covered there too!  Your workouts take a lot of energy so if you feel as if you are lagging or are not seeing steady progress, maybe you should look at what key nutrients may be missing from your diet. As a Certified Nutritional Consultant and author of 4 books of natural health and nutrition, I can tell you a balanced diet is the cornerstone of vibrant health and fitness.

One of my books 

Vegan or Omnivore?
Criteria which will influence your nutritional needs will include if you are vegetarian, pescetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, or any combination of these dietary restrictions. If you are vegan and eat absolutely no animal products. you are at greater risk for calcium, B-12 and iron deficiencies. If you are post-menopausal, the need for calcium is going to skyrocket. B-12 is difficult to obtain on a vegan diet as it is primarily found in meats such as pork. Likewise, heme iron or the iron found in meat is the most easily absorbed. Even if you eat meat but very little "red" meat, you may be looking at an iron deficiency.

Rainbow Light's Calcium Citrate
As mentioned before, this nutrient is going to be very important for vegan athletes who consume little or no dairy products. Sesame seeds, raw almonds and Swiss chard all are rich in calcium and great if you are vegan. Still you will want to take a supplement as when your calcium stores are adequate, it allows your body to effectively burn fat. Calcium is also an important macro mineral for healthy teeth, bones, joints and muscle tendons. Calcium Citrate is perhaps the best absorbed form of calcium. I like Rainbow Light Chocolate Chewables as it is a food based formula and really delicious. No chalky aftertaste, 3 wafers give you the recommended amount of 1,000 mgs of Calcium Citrate plus other macro and trace minerals. One bottle has 15 days supplementation. Take your calcium at night for the best absorption into the bones as your muscles will not be so active to compete for it . Visit RainbowLight.com

Garden of Life Kind Organics B-12
Finding a vegan B-12 supplement is tricky but not impossible. It is important to supplement with this even if you eat some meat but not much red meat such as beef and pork. B-12 deficiency is called Pernicious Anemia with symptoms of weakness, headache and chest pain but is easily corrected with proper supplementation. B-12 promotes concentration and energy while supporting metabolism and heart health. Most B-12 drops require being held under the tongue for 30 seconds or more so it can be absorbed orally. Garden of Life Kind Organics B-12 is easy to spray, tastes delicious and does not require waiting to swallow. Naturally flavored with organic fruits and vegetables. Visit GardenOfLife.com

Certified Organic Women's Multi Vitamin
The easiest to assimilate form of iron is heme iron, found in the red meat of muscle tissue. If you eat meat but your diet consists mostly of white meat chicken and turkey breast, you are also at risk for iron deficiency anemia. I personally do not like iron supplements as many ferrous sulfate formulas can be harsh and constipating. I get some of my iron in my daily multivitamin which is food based. Additionally I do eat the dark meat of poultry, salmon and a small amount of grass fed beef in my Cluck 'n Moo Burgers. You should be getting about 27 mgs of iron per day if you are an active, menstruating female and it is better if you get it from foods like beans, dark leafy greens, raisins and prunes.

Cluck 'n Moo Burger w/ Kale is rich in iron, protein and lower in fat than pure beef.
I eat a lot of nuts, beans and protein shakes as part of my training table diet. A rule of thumb for weight lifting is to ingest one gram of protein per day per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 125 lbs, you're looking at about 100 + grams of protein per day. As an example the Cluck 'n Moo Burger above will give you 21 grams of protein and 10% of your iron requirement for the day. It's also not just the quantity but the quality of the protein that counts. I like to mix it up and combine the amino acids in beans, cheese and quinoa to make a complete protein. I began making my own Nut Milk & Nut Meal as well which gives me an organic source of high quality protein with NO saturated fat but lots of calcium, fiber and omega fatty acids. Learn how to make your own nut milks and nut meals HERE.

Immune System Boosters-Black Elderberry
Your Immune System
As you get more fit, you'll find that you no longer have that extra layer of body-fat keeping you warm. One of the problems of being uber fit as weight lifters strive to be means your immune system often suffers. Then there is increased exposure to germs: at the office, the gym, public transportation,etc.

I don't recommend being paranoid or living in a bubble, but these are issues that face athletic women especially. You may want to have a back up plan with Black Elderberry Syrup which comes in liquid and liqui-caps. Gaia's Black Elderberry Syrup is highly concentrated and perfect for extra protection or when you are feeling a bit run down. I went out running last month but was not properly dressed for the cold. I decided to finish up anyway. Big mistake! I got home and by the next day felt like I was coming down with a cold. I took the syrup along with my Mushroom Therapy caps from Rainbow Light and within just three days recovered completely. No coughing or chest congestion. I just got better and fast! I haven't had a cold in about 4 years and this one didn't stick around long enough to even count as one.

Mushroom Therapy by Rainbow Light

Another problem women athletes have to overcome is the issue of inflammation from repeated use of the same muscle groups. That's why I created the XTreme XTraining Blog. I wanted to show how different training techniques can complement each other while giving overworked muscles a rest so they can perform better next session.

All the same, I know from years of weight lifting using a machine which in effect is an "assisted lift", muscle inflammation can inhibit proper muscle sculpting and development. This shows up as sore muscles where the lactic acid build up has not been completely flushed out. I really like Turmeric for this and Gaia has several targeted formulas to help with joints, pain, etc. I use Turmeric Supreme Extra Strength curcumin supplement. It is very easily released and quickly absorbed due to the vegetarian liquid phyto-caps and synergistic formula which contains black pepper fruit. If you have any problems with your joints or muscle stiffness, you might want to add Turmeric to your diet.

Turmeric Supreme Joint by Gaia Herbs
Over All Multi-Vitamin Fitness Packs
To be honest, I really don't use multi-packs on a daily basis but save them for when I travel. It really makes it a LOT easier to take my supplements along without pill bottles and boxes. These from Vitamin World are women-specific and come in sealed pouches ready to go. I like these for traveling to events like the More Fitness Shape Women's Half Marathon coming up next month. My biggest meal is usually lunch so I like to take my fitness supplements then. The Ultra Woman Sport Daily Multi-Packs has: Ultra Woman Multi, Myoleptin CLA, Coenzyme Q-10 and a High Potency B-12

Ultra Woman Sport comes with Zumba DVD!
The Wrap
A lot of your specific needs are going to hinge on the frequency and intensity of your workouts. Runners engage in an aerobic exchange and will need to make sure to cope with oxidative stress. Body builders and weight lifters are more involved in anaerobic exercises and have to be more concerned with inflammation and lactic acid build up.

Likewise your dietary protocol will dictate when and where you may need to supplement with dietary aids or at the very least include foods rich in nutrients you may be missing. 

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