Posts Tagged ‘athletes’

Water: How much needed for health & optimal athletic performance?

Fitness, nutrition, performance, Recovery - Repair | Posted by admin June 27th, 2010

Water is absolutely critical to our body which comprises about 75% water; the brain has 85%, blood 90%, lungs 90%, muscles 75%, kidney 82% and even bones has 22%.  Basically, we are made of water!

Water dissolves the many valuable nutrients, minerals, and chemicals in the biological processes and transports them to different parts of our body. The carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream. Water is just as important in the transport of waste and toxins out of our bodies. Without the replenishment of fresh water, our body will fail to function, start to waste away, and finally collapse. An adult loses about 2.5 liters water every day through perspiration, breathing, and elimination (urine and feces), and when the body loses 5% of its total water volume, symptoms of dehydration such as thirst, reduced mental concentration, blurred vision, muscle cramps, unexplained tiredness, irritation, dark urine, will begin to show up.

The consequence of consuming insufficient water can be devastating to our body. The cells will start to draw water from the bloodstream instead, causing the heart to work harder. At the same time, when the kidneys fail to cleanse the blood effectively due to inadequate water, the liver and other organs will have to work harder, putting them under extra stress. Continuous water loss over time will speed up aging but increase risks of diseases and health issues such as constipation, dry and itchy skin, acne, nosebleeds, urinary tract infection, coughs, sneezing, sinus pressure, and headaches.

So, how much water should you drink a day? How much water is enough for you? The minimum amount of water you need depends on our body weight. As a general guide, for two pounds of body weight, an ounce of water is required.  So, if you are 60kg (1 kg is 2.54 lbs), you should drink about 2 liters of water every day.

Specifics of Understanding:

  • Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water. Several approaches attempt to approximate water needs for the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate.
  • Replacement approach.  The average urine output for adults is about 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) a day.  You lose close to an additional liter of water a day through breathing, sweating and bowel movements.  Food usually accounts for 20 percent of your total fluid intake, so if you consume 2 liters of water or other beverages a day (a little more than 8 cups) along with your normal diet, you will typically replace the lost fluids.
  • Eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.  Another approach to water intake is the “8 x 8 rule” — drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day (about 1.9 liters). The rule could also be stated, “drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day,” as all fluids count toward the daily total.  Though the approach isn’t supported by scientific evidence, many people use this basic rule as a guideline for how much water and other fluids to drink.
  • Dietary recommendations. The Institute of Medicine advises that men consume roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day. Even apart from the above approaches, if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate. Factors that influence water needs: You may need to modify your total fluid intake depending on how active you are, the climate you live in, your health status, and if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • Exercise. If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. An extra 400 to 600 milliliters (about 1.5 to 2.5 cups) of water should suffice for short bouts of exercise, but intense exercise lasting more than an hour (for example, running a marathon) requires more fluid intake. How much additional fluid you need depends on how much you sweat during exercise, the duration of your exercise and the type of activity you’re engaged in? During long bouts of intense exercise, it’s best to use a sports drink that contains sodium, as this will help replace sodium lost in sweat and reduce the chances of developing hyponatremia, which can be life-threatening. Also, continue to replace fluids after you’re finished exercising.
  • Environment. Hot or humid weather will make you sweat and requires additional intake of fluid. Heated indoor air also can cause your skin to lose moisture during wintertime. Further, altitudes greater than 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing, which use up more of your fluid reserves.
  • Illnesses or health conditions. Signs of illnesses, such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea, cause your body to lose additional fluids. In these cases you should drink more water and may even need oral rehydration solutions, such as Gatorade or Poweraid supplements.  Also, you may need increased fluid intake if you develop certain conditions, including bladder infections or urinary tract stones. On the other hand, some conditions such as heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases may impair excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake.
  • Pregnancy or breast-feeding. Women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink 2.3 liters (about 10 cups) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume 3.1 liters (about 13 cups) of fluids a day.
  • Other sources.  Although it’s a great idea to keep water within reach at all times, you don’t need to rely only on what you drink to satisfy your fluid needs. What you eat also provides a significant portion of your fluid needs. On average, food provides about 20 percent of total water intake, while the remaining 80 percent comes from water and beverages of all kinds. For example: many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and tomatoes, are 90 percent to 100 percent water by weight. Beverages such as milk and juice also are composed mostly of water. Even beer, wine and caffeinated beverages — such as coffee, tea or soda — can contribute, but these should not be a major portion of your daily total fluid intake. Water is one of your best hydration source because it’s calorie-free, inexpensive and naturally available.
  • When to hydrate?   It’s generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink. By the time you become thirsty, it’s possible to already be slightly dehydrated. Further, be aware that as you get older your body is less able to sense dehydration and send your brain signals of thirst. Excessive thirst and increased urination can be signs of a more serious medical condition. Talk to your doctor if you experience either. To ward off dehydration and make sure your body has the fluids it needs, make water your beverage of choice. Nearly every healthy adult can consider the following: Drink a glass of water with each meal and between each meal. Hydrate before, during and after exercise. Substitute sparkling water for alcoholic drinks at social gatherings. If you drink water from a bottle, thoroughly clean or replace the bottle often to avoid disease and infections.


Drinking too much water?

  • Though uncommon, it is possible to drink too much water. When your kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood is diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood, a condition called hyponatremia. Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, who drink large amounts of water, are at higher risk of hyponatremia. In general, though, drinking too much water is rare in healthy adults who consume an average American diet. If you’re concerned about your fluid intake, check with your doctor or a registered dietitian. He or she can help you determine the amount of water that’s best for you.


Staying safely hydrated

Resources:  The Mayo Clinic &
Ruth Tan, Health & Nutritional Analyst

Vitamin D – Its Role in Health & Optimal Athletic Performance

Fitness, nutrition, performance, Recovery - Repair | Posted by admin May 24th, 2010

There are a pandemic number of people who are vitamin D deficient.  This has become evident due to increased discovery and sharing of documentation from clinical trials, epidemiological studies, and educational journals.  The end results from an alarming and growing number due to lack of sunshine exposure and inadequate supply of vitamin D from daily food intake.   This added to obesity trends, an aging population, and improved skin products that block formation of vitamin D3.  Until recently, vitamin D was understood to be solely related to bone mineralization and calcium utilization in the body.   Further studies have revealed vitamin D to play a leading role in many additional cell processes.  More than 36 cell types and 10 extra renal organs have been discovered to possess the vitamin D receptor, or VDR. Insufficient vitamin D is related to reduced immunological conditions, cancers of the breast, colon, pancreas, and prostate as well as heart diseases, type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cognitive impairment, and all cause mortality.  This impressive collection of medical conditions accounts for more than 60% of all deaths in the Western World.

What is Vitamin D?

A fat soluble pro-hormone, vitamin D is a seco-steroid which exists in two forms:  vitamin D2 & vitamin D3.  Vitamin D2 is obtained from yeast and plant material, vitamin D3 is produced endogenously in the skin by the photo-chemical conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol. Vitamin D circulates in the body bound to the vitamin D binding protein, or VDBP.  Both vitamin D2 and D3 are converted to the biomarker 25-hydoxyvitamin [D (25(OH)D] in the liver and undergoes further hydroxylation in the kidneys to the bio-active form of the hormone 1,25(OH)2D.

The Frequency of vitamin D Deficiency:

The March 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism points towards an overwhelming 59% of people that are vitamin D insufficient.  This was based on a cross-sectional study designed to establish a relationship between serum 25(OH)D and the degree of fat penetration in muscle.  These results have been duplicated as well in several independent studies of people from all over the United States in recent months.

Adverse Outcomes of Vitamin D Insufficiency:

Presence of 1,25(OH)2D and vitamin D receptors (VDR) in a wide variety of tissues ranging from pancreas, colon, brain, liver, muscle, skin and lung  speaks of its newly found broad involvement in the functionality of bodily systems.  Published literature over several years indicates that the non-bone mineralization effects of vitamin D are autocrine, not endocrine.  Thus, implying these functions are not based or derived for the amount of circulating 1,25(OH)2D in the body, but rather due to the intracellular synthesis of 1,25(OH)2D by these tissues.  Studies also indicate that the levels of 1,25(OH)2D required for these non-calcemic functions are higher than the levels of normal serum 1,25(OH)2D. 

Epidemiological evidences have linked deprived levels of vitamin D conditions to osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, obesity, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, type I diabetes and several cancers.  Vitamin is also effective in maintaining low susceptibility to infections including pulmonary diseases.


Vitamin D has been shown to have an extensive area of biological influence due to the discovery of VDR and its conversion in several body tissues.  Health, strength and athletic performance can be optimized by measuring the residual levels of vitamin D at the cellular level to determine the degree of insufficiencies in order to adjust diets and nutritional supplements which directly influences athletic strength and recovery time.

Contact us for information on measuring residual vitamins & minerals by functional intracellular analysis at the cellular level – which is directly proportional to the body stores . . .

Reference:  Ray J, Meike W. D-Light: Vitamin D and Good Health. MLO. 2010;42(5):32-38

Vitamin D – Maintains Health & Athletic Performance . . .

Fitness, performance, Recovery - Repair | Posted by admin April 16th, 2010

Vitamin D is an often overlooked nutritional element in athletic achievement, a sleeper nutrient, says John Anderson, a professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of North Carolina regarding Vitamin D and athletic performance. Vitamin D once was thought to be primarily involved in bone development. But a growing body of research suggests that it’s vital in multiple different bodily functions, including allowing body cells to utilize calcium (which is essential for cell metabolism), muscle fibers to develop and grow normally, and the immune system to function properly. Almost every cell in the body has receptors for Vitamin D, Anderson says.  It can up-regulate and down-regulate hundreds, maybe even thousands of genes.   D. Enette Larson-Meyer, an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Wyoming says we’re only at the start of understanding how important it is.

But many of us, it seems, no matter how active and scrupulous we are about health, don’t get enough Vitamin D. Nowadays, many people aren’t going outside very much and most of us assiduously apply sunscreen and take other precautions when we do.

Meanwhile, dietary sources of Vitamin D are meager. Cod-liver oil provides a whopping dose. But a glass of fortified milk provides a fraction of what scientists now think we need per day. A study published online in the journal Pediatrics in 2009 concluded that more than 60 percent of American children, or almost 51 million kids, have insufficient levels of Vitamin D and another 9 percent, or 7.6 million children, are clinically deficient, a serious condition. Cases of childhood rickets, a bone disease caused by lack of Vitamin D, have been rising in the U.S. in recent years.

Although few studies have looked closely at the issue of Vitamin D and athletic performance, those that have are suggestive. A series of strange but evocative studies undertaken decades ago in Russia and Germany, for instance, hint that the Eastern Bloc nations may have depended in part on sunlamps and Vitamin D to produce their preternaturally well-muscled and world-beating athletes. In one of the studies, four Russian sprinters were doused with artificial, ultraviolet light. Another group wasn’t. Both trained identically for the 100-meter dash. The control group lowered their sprint times by 1.7 percent. The radiated runners, by comparison, improved by an impressive 7.4 percent.

More recently, when researchers tested the vertical jumping ability of a small group of adolescent athletes, Larson-Meyer says, they found that those who had the lowest levels of Vitamin D tended not to jump as high, intimating that too little of the nutrient may impair muscle power. Low levels might also contribute to sports injuries, in part because Vitamin D is so important for bone and muscle health. In a Creighton University study of female naval recruits, stress fractures were reduced significantly after the women started taking supplements of Vitamin D and calcium.

Recent studies have shown that, among athletes who train outside year-round, maximal oxygen intake tends to be highest in late summer. The athletes, in other words, are fittest in August, when ultraviolet radiation from the sun is near its zenith. They often then experience an abrupt drop in maximal oxygen intake, beginning as early as September, even though they continue to train just as hard. This decline coincides with the autumnal lengthening of the angle of sunlight. Less ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth and, apparently, sports performance suffers.

Can Vitamin D Improve Athletic Performance?

The active form of vitamin D is a steroid (actually a secosteroid) in the same way that testosterone is a steroid. It is also a hormone (hormone: Greek, meaning: to set in motion) in the same way that growth hormone is a hormone. Steroid hormones are substances made from cholesterol that circulate in the body and work at distant sites by setting in motion genetic protein transcription. That is, both vitamin D and testosterone set in motion your genome, the stuff of life. While testosterone is a sex steroid hormone, vitamin D is a pleomorphic steroid hormone.

If you are vitamin D deficient, the medical literature indicates that the right amount of vitamin D will make you faster, stronger, improve your balance and timing, etc. How much it will improve your athletic ability depends on how deficient you are to begin with. How good an athlete you will be depends on your innate ability, training, and dedication?

However, peak athletic performance also depends upon the neuromuscular cells in your body and brain having unfettered access to the steroid hormone, activated vitamin D. How much activated vitamin D is available to your brain, muscle, and nerves depends on the amount of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in your residual stores. In turn, how much 25-hydroxyvitamin D is in your residual stores depends on how much vitamin D you put in your mouth or how often you expose your skin to UVB light?


The New York Times, Health – Fitness & Nutrition, 09/23/2009
Vitamin D Council:

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GoTo: Prevention not Prescriptions

Proper Intake of Macronutrients & Micronutrients – Young Athletes

nutrition, performance | Posted by admin July 12th, 2009

Critical Micronutrients:
Current research and trends point to deficiencies in calcium, iron, folate, vitamin B6, and zinc for young athletes. The functions, risks of deficiency, and recommendations for each vital micronutrient follow.

Proper intake of calcium is needed to support bone growth, increase bone mass, and aid in nerve impulses and muscle contraction. Poor calcium intake can lead to decreased bone mass and consequential increased risk for stress fractures and other bone-related injuries. Because a young athlete’s growing bones cannot handle as much stress as an adult’s mature bones, optimum bone health is critical; overuse and overtraining injuries are more apt to occur in a pediatric or adolescent athlete. To ensure proper bone health, keep in mind that the adequate intake of calcium for children aged 9 to 18 is 1,300 milligrams per day.

While iron is noted for its oxygen-carrying capacity, it is also a major player in the energy metabolism of carbohydrate, protein, and fats. For this reason, young athletes with iron-deficiency anemia may experience performance inhibition ranging from decreased work capacity to extreme fatigue, impaired immune function, and impaired cognitive reasoning. Because iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world, it is imperative that professionals working with young athletes are aware of the athlete’s iron intake. On the other hand, it is important to note that iron toxicity is the most common cause of poisoning death in young children. If you want to avoid recommending a supplement, you can recommend food items that are high in iron, such as red meat and enriched cereals and grains, coupled with fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C, which aids in iron absorption.

B Vitamins
Both vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and folate are members of the B-complex of vitamins and are critical components of energy metabolism and blood health. Both are critical for amino acid metabolism and good sources of each are enriched grain products and assorted animal products. Research differs on whether there are changes in folate and vitamin B6 levels during periods of heavy training. However, the conclusion is usually that exercise does not increase the requirements for these nutrients and the dietary reference intake should be followed. In general, a B-complex deficiency can lead to fatigue, muscle soreness, apathy, and loss of cognitive function.

While an extreme zinc deficiency is uncommon in the United States, athletes are at risk due to poor consumption of foods rich in this mineral. Zinc plays a role in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and is critical for wound healing, tissue growth and maintenance, and immune function. Various studies have shown that zinc status directly affects basal metabolic rate, thyroid hormone levels, and protein utilization; thus, zinc is critical to athletes. Dietary protein enhances zinc absorption, and athletes who are most at risk of a deficiency may be vegetarians or those who primarily eat a grain-based diet. With the myriad critical functions to which zinc is linked, consumption of adequate levels of zinc should be stressed.

Critical Macronutrients:
With an increase in energy expenditure comes a subsequent need for an increase in the intake of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Current research and trends point to deficiencies in overall total energy and carbohydrate intake. Also of concern is deficient fluid intake and consequent altered hydration status of young athletes. The functions, risks of deficiency, and recommendations for each vital macronutrient follows.

In athletes, poor carbohydrate intake results in inadequate glycogen stores and premature fatigue, which not only compromises performance but also forces the body to rely on another source for fuel: protein. Glucose from carbohydrate sources is essential to most body functions during exercise. If glucose is not available for use as fuel during physical activity, the body will take from its protein stores for energy via gluconeogenesis. Because carbohydrate is the preferred fuel for athletic performance, approximately 55% of total daily calories should come from carbohydrate. The young athlete has the capacity to store carbohydrate in the form of glycogen, but this capacity is limited, so carbohydrate must be consumed daily. Carbohydrate needs are based on body weight and intensity of activity. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) has set the following recommendations for the young athlete:
• 3 to 5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram for very light intensity training;
• 5 to 8 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram for moderate or heavy training;
• 8 to 9 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram for preevent loading (24 to 48 hours prior); and
• 1.7 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram for postevent refueling (within two to three hours).

Protein is an essential part of the young athlete’s diet, and the role of protein for youth includes building, maintaining, and repairing muscle and other body tissues. It should be noted that an adequate protein intake with inadequate caloric intake prohibits protein balance, even when the recommended daily allowance for protein is consumed. Therefore, it is critical that young athletes consume enough calories to maintain body weight. While adult endurance and strength athletes may need more protein per pound of body weight, additional protein needs for young athletes have not been specifically evaluated. However, the ADA has set the following recommendations:
• Athletes who have just begun a training program require 1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram per day of protein.
• Athletes participating in endurance sports require 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilogram per day of protein.
• Athletes who restrict calories must be certain to consume adequate protein for muscle building and repair. A minimum of 1.4 grams per kilogram per day is recommended.
• Vegetarian and vegan athletes should be counseled to ensure that adequate intake of protein is consumed from plant sources.
• Consuming an overabundance of protein can lead to dehydration, weight gain, and increased calcium loss. This is critical to monitor as research shows that the population of young athletes is already at risk for calcium deficiency.

While carbohydrate is often spotlighted as the preferred fuel for sports, there are some bodies of research suggesting that lipid or fat may be the preferred fuel for children. This may be due to the higher rate of fat oxidation in children. As a major energy source, fat is essential for light- to moderate-intensity exercise and for endurance exercise. Below are some easy-to-follow guidelines for consumption of fats:
• While a low-fat diet can be followed, it is important that young athletes consume an average of 20% to 30% of calories from fat.
• Like adults, young athletes should aim to significantly lower the amount of saturated and trans fat in their diet. The focus should be on an intake of healthy fat from plant oils and soft margarines made with vegetable oils and on limiting the amounts of fried and processed foods.

Maintaining fluid balance is critical for the young athlete. As rates of youth participation in endurance events climb, legitimate concerns about fluid status have arisen. Aside from the risk of heat-related illness, dehydration is strongly associated with fatigue during exercise. This risk is increased in certain environmental conditions such as high heat and humidity. Compared with adults, young athletes may be at a higher risk for altered fluid status for several reasons: Children experience greater heat stress and heat accumulation, and they have a greater ratio of surface area to body mass and absorb heat more readily. Signs of dehydration in children include dark urine, small urine volume, muscle cramps, reduced sweating, increased heart rate, headaches, and nausea. Specific recommendations for fluid consumption are as follows:
• Child and adolescent athletes should aim to replenish lost hydration stores during and after an event. This can be done by weighing the athlete before and after an event and replacing fluids lost (16 to 24 ounces for every pound lost).
• For activities lasting less than 60 minutes, select water for hydration.
• For activities lasting more than 60 minutes, select sports beverages for hydration, electrolytes, and energy from carbohydrate. Select a beverage that provides 6% to 8% carbohydrate.
• Lastly, be aware that children do not instinctively drink enough fluids to replace lost stores and thirst does not always indicate when the body is in need of more fluids.

Sports Nutrition: Critical to Athletic Success

nutrition | Posted by admin May 18th, 2009

All athletes strive to compete at the top of their game but, unbeknownst to many of them, their performance relies on their nutritional status. Young athletes with inadequate diets may have insufficient fuel for workouts, nutrient deficiencies that can lead to illness or fatigue, a decrement in bone growth and maintenance, and may not reach their potential for muscle growth. All of these will be reflected in their performance, regardless of their determination.

Despite the recognition that young athletes need to pay greater attention to their fuel consumption, recent research suggests that many youths struggle with energy balance, experiencing an energy deficit or surplus. We are all too familiar with this energy surplus, known as overweight or obesity, but that crisis is not the focus of this article. The concern is that many young athletes require greater amounts of nutrients but remain uninformed or unconcerned about their nutrition needs or simply feel powerless to improve their nutritional status. Young athletes need help to overcome these problems.

The number of young athletes in the United States is increasing and estimates are that approximately 30 to 45 million youths aged 6 to 18 participate in some form of athletics. These young athletes turn to coaches, parents, teammates, and health professionals for nutrition guidance. They can guide athletes to be leaner, stronger, and able to withstand the rigors of training and competition. They can offer superior advice because they are more cognizant of research findings and are equipped with clinical and counseling skills to aid in a young athlete’s quest for improvement. By helping athletes improve their diet, they can eliminate obstacles to better health and nutrition and thereby help athletes push their limits and reach their full potential.

Nutrition professionals can aid young athletes in their quest for victory by recognizing that children and adolescents generally need more calories and protein per pound of body weight than many adults. It is a well-known fact that children need this extra energy to grow, fully develop, and thrive. Nutrient needs further elevate and reach their peak during adolescence. Potential differences in nutrition needs between a typical child or adolescent and an athletic child or adolescent likely exist but are not entirely clear. Limited studies of energy balance in young athletes have been published, and conservative recommendations have been made. But self-reported diet records of young athletes often indicate that intake of energy, carbohydrate, and select micronutrients may be below recommended levels. They must be aware that these deficiencies exist and are especially apparent in athletes involved in sports that focus on body composition and appearance.

Residual nutritional levels of micronutrients can now be baseline measured by new scientific based technology.