You may be familiar with sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium regarding needs for hydration, but these nutrients are also related to many other physiologic processes in the body. Nutrients—including micronutrients, major nutrients and trace minerals—all play an important role in promoting total-body wellness. And staying healthy, strong and fit improves overall quality of life, decreases stress and enhances athletic performance.
Many athletes are looking for a competitive edge regarding fitness and performance. While research does not conclusively show an ergogenic effect for specific nutrients, being deficient in any of them may hinder performance and potentially decrease overall health. Also of interest: It is debated in the research whether people with active lifestyles have increased needs for micronutrients. Intensity, duration, frequency and overall energy requirements also determine the needs of macro- and micronutrients. More research is needed to determine a conclusive answer on increased needs.
Though micronutrients, major nutrients and trace minerals do not directly boost energy or allow improved athletic performance, they do unlock the properties of our macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrate), which are necessary for all of our body’s physiological processes. You’ll see several specific examples in the chart that follows.
Incorporating a variety of whole, unprocessed foods will enable you to consume the major and trace minerals needed to allow your body to function at its best. These include the top 9 major and trace minerals: calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium, selenium, iron, zinc, and chromium. If you are unable to consume a variety of foods, supplementation may be needed using a certified product.
This chart, which includes food suggestions and serving sizes, can help you ensure that your diet has a healthy mix of these top 9 nutrients.
|Mineral (type)||Recommended Intake||Physiological Role/Benefit||Food (Amount of Nutrient)|
|Calcium(major)||RDA for adults: 1,000-1,300 mg/day|
|Magnesium(major)||RDA for adults: 310-420 mg|
|Sodium/Chloride(major)||For healthy adults:RDA sodium: 2,300 mg|
AI chloride: 2.3 g/day
For adults with high blood pressure: Upper limit for sodium: 1,500 mg
Naturally occurring in:
· 1 C milk (107 mg)
· 1 C beets (106 mg)
· 1 stalk celery (32 mg)
|Potassium(major)||AI for adults: 4.7g|
|Selenium(trace)||RDA for adults: 55 mcg|
|Iron(trace)||RDA for adults: 8-18 mg||Heme sources are most absorbable from meat, seafood and poultry. Plants and fortified foods are non-heme sources.|
|Zinc(trace)||RDA for adults: 8-11 mg|
|Chromium(trace)||AI for adults: 20-35 mcg|
*Key: RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance, AI = Adequate Intake, mg = milligram, mcg = micrograms, g = grams, C = cups, t = teaspoons.