Two key nutrients for athletes

Happy Friday!

Did you know your level of key nutrients can drastically impact your sleep, cravings, energy level, muscle fatigue and performance?

One of the things I look at with my health coach clients is whether or not they are getting many key nutrients.  Here are two that are essential for good health and crucial for athletes (yet often lacking).

If you want to be a stronger athlete (or simply healthier for life), these two are at the top of the list.

Omega 3 Fatty acids

You’re hearing about these everywhere, right?


What they do:
Protection! Omega 3s are anti-inflammatory and will help protect you from heart attacks, strokes, cancer and even arthritis.  They help keep the blood thin to prevent clots.  Lower blood pressure.  Help combat depression. Promote healthy metabolism.

For athletes: Reduce muscle soreness and recovery faster.  Promote fat burning (by enhancing insulin sensitivity). Less fatigue and joint pain.

Food sources: Salmon, sardines, grass-fed beef, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, soybeans or tofu.

Supplements: If you don’t like any of the above, you can supplement with a high quality fish oil or krill oil.  You can also use algae or spirulina, as these are what the fish and pasture-raised animals are eating that gives them high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids.

I’m enjoying these Amazing Grass samples.  Several have spirulina and Omega 3s in them.  All of them have greens or grasses, which are among the top superfoods we can eat!

L loves these in a smoothie, too.  (With plenty of Dora band-aids and a tutu, please.)

Vitamin D

If you were part of my sugar detox tele-course (next one in3 weeks!), you learned that our levels of Vitamin D is tied to our cravings.  And it does so much more!

What it does:
Helps maintain calcium and phosphorous (two key minerals that sugar depletes in the body), protects us from hypertension, MS, arthritis and is linked to cancer prevention. Necessary for our immune system to fight off viruses and bacteria.

For athletes: Helps maintain strong bones and reduces the incidence of fractures.  Essential for our muscles

Best sources: 10-15 minutes of sun exposure is the best way to meet your daily Vitamin D needs (without sunscreen).  You can also find small amounts in fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel and small amounts in egg yolks, mushrooms and fortified foods.

Supplements:  If you find you have low Vitamin D levels, or if you live in the north with less sun exposure, you may want to take a supplement up to 2,000 IU daily.

Bottom line? Don’t fear fat. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.  Get sunshine.

For more on anti-inflammatory eating for athletes, check out my guest post at Miss Zippy.

Do you think about food as fuel for your workouts? Are you getting enough Omega 3s and sunlight?


44 thoughts on “Two key nutrients for athletes

  1. I’ve actually been doing a lot more research on food as fuel. I’ve been eating a lot more omega 3. I really like salmon a lot and have been trying to add more flax to my diet.

    I get enough vitamin D and I actually strive to have a lot of calcium. I am really trying to prevent any stress fractures for the marathon!
    Hollie recently posted..All the BloggingMy Profile

  2. Great reminders! I’m trying to incorporate more salmon into my diet – thanks to pinterest for a lot of good recipes – because I never really cared for it but I hear so much about it’s benefits! Living in the north with our days are already getting shorter it’s surprising they don’t put Vitamin D supplements in our water! For right now I’m soaking in all the sun I can get on my runs training for Chicago Marathon!
    Katie @ Twin Mom Runs recently posted..Training while TravelingMy Profile

  3. Great post! I’m not sure I get enough omega-3. I try to add in chia seeds at least once a day (in my oatmeal). But I forget about walnuts. Though, I do eat tofu. I haven’t tried all of the powders from Amazing Grass, but I loved their bars! And the Vitamin D. I’m pretty sure I’m ok on that. Now my husband, his was so bad he had to be on this crazy mega pill for a while. It was crazy how much it affected his mood and we didn’t even realize it and he was starting to have serious issues with pain in his feet trying to run.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Workout Wednesday – Body Blaster TabataMy Profile

  4. I always laugh when it comes to advice about getting sunshine b/c that will NEVER be an issue for me–I love to be outside! I also love cold-water fish, and do plenty of chia seeds in smoothies, etc., which have a good dose of Omega-3s also. Great post!
    misszippy recently posted..This MAF stuff really works!My Profile

  5. Somehow I live in Phoenix, run and cycle outside, and I am still vitamin D deficient! Aaaaand I’ve been super lame about taking my supplements so this is a great reminder! 🙂
    Ari @ Ari’s Menu recently posted..Ricotta PestoMy Profile

  6. Awe love the dora bandaids and tutu!!! I’m pretty sure we could all use a little more of that in our lives :0)

    I think I am pretty good about getting enough Omega 3, and sunlight. I LOVE salmon and have a million recipes for it, even though I pretty much always grill it with different marinades because that is my favorite!
    Laura @losingrace recently posted..I’m asking for YOUR help 🙂My Profile

  7. Love this! I just recently heard that the US has a huge omega-3 deficiency because of all the omega-6 that is in our normal diet. Something like omega-6 counteracts all the omega-3 we take in, so increasing the omega-3 intake is important in order to actually benefit from the omega-3. Either way, it’s definitely worth focusing on adding in more omega-3! …also, how many times can I say omega-3 in one comment?!
    Alison @ The Fit Chronicles recently posted..summer beach workoutMy Profile

    • Yep- exactly. We need the right ratio of omega3 to omega6, and because our processed food is packed with omega 6 (peanuts, canola oils, etc) most Americans are way out of balance and need to concentrate on the Omega 3s.
      Laura recently posted..Two key nutrients for athletesMy Profile

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  9. Great (and very useful) information! I spent most of my life avoiding fish until a couple of years ago when I realized there was just way too many benefits to ignore. I usually force it down once a week now! And I’m lucky to live in a place with something like 360 days of sunshine a year, so I get plenty of vitamin D! Have a great weekend, Laura!
    Amy recently posted..A Tale of Two Trail RunsMy Profile

  10. I’d say I do a pretty good job at getting in a good amount of healthy fats including Omega-3’s but I know I struggle with vitamin D. When I last had my blood work done that was the one area I was slightly low in. However, if I take a supplement, I get cold sores about 2-3 times a month! After researching what was going on I learned it was connected to taking Vitamin D and since I’ve stopped I haven’t had one. Knock on wood 🙂 Trying to find some other ways to get it in though…
    Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome recently posted..Five Word Friday – Sick, Zoo, Peaches, Cookies, Winner!My Profile

  11. It’s quite amazing how many people are Vitamin D deficient even though they are always outside soaking up the sun. When I started looking at food as fuel, I reaped the benefits of increased energy and recovery.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Friday FavoritesMy Profile

  12. So much great information here – I love this post!! I take Vega’s Omega 3 Oil daily to make sure I’m getting enough of that nutrient, as well as a Vitamin D supplement. I get plenty of sunshine on the weekend, but maybe not as much during the week. 🙂
    Heather @ Better With Veggies recently posted..What Happens In Vegas…My Profile

  13. Great post! I am a huge advocate of getting a decent dose of vitamin d every morning! I take my coffee outside and just get my mind right for the day. Thanks for sharing!
    Martha recently posted..My First 5kMy Profile

  14. I’m so glad to know that I’m getting these nutrients! I make sure we eat salmon once a week and am always eating nuts and shoving flaxseed and chia in everything I make, including grass-fed beef burgers! When I last had bloodwork done I was pleased to see my Vitamin D levels were high, so I guess I’m getting enough sunshine! Thanks for the reminders!
    Alison @ racingtales recently posted..Qualifying for Team USA OR Why I Drove 1600 Miles for a Sprint TriathlonMy Profile

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