The nutritional demands of the active person are not that different from the sedentary person, except in quantity. We all need vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Women need calcium. We hear it. We read it. It is now general knowledge. Less known is that men need calcium just as much as women. Active people need calcium for bone density, but to the body, bone density is not as important as preserving blood levels of calcium to ensure regular heart rhythm and proper nerve and muscle function throughout the body.
There are several types of calcium available. Which one is best? I don’t believe the human body is capable of properly digesting and assimilating dolomite (rock) or oyster shell calcium. Bone meal (certified lead free) and calcium citrate are two of the more popular and bio-available forms. Antacids are not good to use as a calcium supplement. They lack the necessary magnesium, and often contain coal tar, sodium, and food coloring. (If heartburn is a frequent symptom, antacids are not the answer. Speak with an herbalist to learn about dietary changes and herbs to strengthen the digestive system to remove the cause of the problem.)
Magnesium, while not officially one of the top five nutrients, is necessary for proper calcium utilization. Various sources site proportions ranging from two parts calcium, one part magnesium to equal parts calcium and magnesium. In truth, it depends on w hat the bowel will tolerate. Magnesium tends to activate the bowel.
The B vitamins are water soluble vitamins which are critical for every nerve function and most metabolic functions in the body. These vitamins must be replaced frequently as they are not easily stored. When the body is under stress it uses the B vitamins much more quickly. Exercise is a stress on the body, albeit a good stress, and as such, the demand for B vitamins soars. This family of vitamins includes thiamin (B1),riboflavin (B2), niacin or niacinamide (B3), pyridoxine (B6), cobalamin or cyanocobalamin (B 12), folic acid, pantothenic acid (BS), biotin, choline, inositol, and PABA. The following is a list of some of the important functions of B vitamins. (See chart, next page, for functions of B-complex vitamins).
This vitamin, well-known for it’s beneficial action in the immune response, is less well-known for it’s importance in helping people cope with physical and mental stress. Vitamin C is depleted when there is injury and is required by the adrenal glands to create stress-coping hormones. The growth, repair, and maintenance of most tissues is significantly enhanced with vitamin C as is the absorption of non-animal source iron.
Certain anti-aging qualities have been attributed to Vitamin C, largely because of its antioxidant properties. It is felt in the scientific community that free radicals damage body tissues, including the circulatory system. It is known that Vitamin C, as well as several other vitamins, neutralize antioxidants and protect tissues from damage.
Dr. Lendon Smith recommends taking Vitamin C to the bowel tolerance level, that is the amount that produces soft but not loose bowel movements. People with inflammatory bowel conditions may not be able to use vitamin C in large quantity. Vitamin C is best assimilated when taken with bioflavonoids.
This important antioxidant vitamin has been shown to slow the effects of aging by lengthening the useful life of cells within the body. It is also believed that Vitamin E can enhance the ability of the blood cells to carry oxygen.
Vitamin E comes in many chemical forms. The fine print on the bottle will usually include the following information. The vitamin will either be d- or l- . This indicates, in oversimplified terms, whether the vitamin is natural or synthetic. D- is natural, l- is synthetic.
The next part of the chemical name will probably be alpha. Vitamin E, like so many other vitamins, is really a complex vitamin. That is to say alpha is one part of the complex, and the other parts are beta, gamma, and delta. Vitamin E is utilized more efficiently in the body when the entire complex is present. The last part of the name, which is universal is tocopherol which translates to ‘life giving’. So, the ultimate vitamin E supplement would include: d-alpha tocopherol, d-beta tocopherol, d-gamma tocopherol, and d-delta tocopherol.
Iron enables blood cells to carry oxygen to body tissues and is needed for energy formation. When deficient, symptoms may include listlessness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty swallowing, pallor, heart palpitations upon exertion and a general sense of unwellness. Indications of low iron include inability to concentrate, poor endurance, intolerance to cold, and poor immune response. Runners tend to be iron deficient, as do menstruating women. Iron deficiency is said to be the most prevalent deficiency affecting the population today.
A report in The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book indicated that chronically fatigued women whose iron levels tested in normal ranges responded well to an iron supplement that increased their testable iron to above average levels.
Ferrous gluconate is one of the most easily assimilated forms of iron. it is even more well absorbed in the presence of vitamin C.