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The Miracle of Micronutrients

The Miracle of Micronutrients

Our attention mainly revolves around proteins, carbohydrates and fats and we often forget to pay heed to the nutrients that are required in minute quantities, known as micronutrients. They comprise vitamins and minerals that orchestrate and enhance body functions. Moreover, they ensure that the protein and carbohydrates are put to action.t

Iron is a vital micronutrient that helps transport oxygen in the blood and muscles to perform their functions. Any inadequacy can directly impact training and performance and also the ability to fight diseases. Because of menstrual blood loses and workout needs, women runners should pay more attention to their iron levels.1-3 Moreover, runners require up to 1.7 times more iron than a sedentary person.4
Foods rich in iron
Green leafy vegetables, kidney beans, chickpeas, soya beans, dates and meats
Calcium and vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D are the 2 nutrients that go hand in hand to help maintain bone health. Any inadequacy in their availability may reduce the strength in your bones. Although calcium finds its home in your bones, vitamin D ensures its absorption from the gut. In addition, vitamin D does help boost your performance and reduce muscle injury. Calcium can be lost through your sweat; therefore, getting enough calcium from your diet is important. It is vital to include at least 2 to 3 servings of calcium-rich food in your daily diet.1-3
Foods rich in calcium
and vitamin D

Milk and dairy products such as yoghurt, cheese, paneer, eggs, green leafy vegetables and loads of sunlight
B vitamins
B vitamins include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9) and cobalamin (B12). Thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid and biotin assist carbohydrates and proteins release their energy during exercise. Folic acid and cobalamin help in the production of blood cells and in tissue repair.3
Foods rich in B vitamins
Rice, black beans, oats, eggs, fish, chicken, nuts, mushrooms, potatoes, almonds, spinach, cowpeas, green peas, corn and tomatoes
The rate of energy utilisation during a marathon shoots up significantly. When you exercise more you breathe more, which makes your body take in more oxygen.5,6

Although oxygen is the elixir of life, its excess usage by the body can release excess free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive and unstable molecules. Excess amounts of free radicals hamper the body’s natural balance and can damage the body tissues. In addition, high levels of free radicals produced in muscles are associated with muscle damage and impaired muscle function.5,6

This is where the antioxidants come into play as they scavenge these free radicals and control their associated damage. In addition to protecting the body, antioxidants also support the disease-fighting ability of the body.5,6
Micronutrients such as vitamins A, C, E, zinc and selenium act as antioxidants.5,6


Ensure you include a variety of foods in your diet, including fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure you get your daily dose of micronutrients.

1. Maughan R. Role of micronutrients in sport and physical activity. Br Med Bull. 1999;55(3):683-90.

2. Olympic. Nutrition for athletes. Lausanne, Swiss; International Olympic Committee; 2012.

3. Rodriguez NR, Di Marco NM, Langley S. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Nutrition and athletic performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009, 41(3):709-31.

4. Sports dietitians Australia. Marathon nutrition. Victoria, Australia: Sports Dietitians Australia; 2010.

5. Clarkson PM, Thompson HS. Antioxidants: what role do they play in physical activity and health? Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;72(2 suppl):637S-46S.

6. Gross M, Baum O. Supplemental antioxidants and adaptation to physical training. In: Lamprecht M, editor. Antioxidants in Sport Nutrition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2015.

7. Dieticians of Canada. Nutrition and athletic performance: Position paper. Ontario, Canada: Dietitians of Canada, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine; 2016.