Micronutrients are nutrients required by humans and other living things throughout life in small quantities to orchestrate a whole range of physiological functions, but which the organism itself cannot produce.  (Canadian UNICEF Committee, Global Child Survival and Health, 2006, p.67)

I tend to find that many athletes underestimate the importance of vitamins and minerals, that’s why I found it appropriate to start this blog with the acronym, CHOPKINS Cafe MG.  This acronym stands for the bio elements that make up the fundamental structures of all living things; carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, potassium, iodine, nitrogen, calcium, iron, and magnesium.  Quite simply, these are the “bare necessities” needed for mammalian existence.  Vitamins are organic compounds that a living organism requires in trace quantities for good health, but which the organism can not synthesize and therefore must be obtain through it’s diet.  Vitamins are not an energy source but play a vital role in releasing the energy that is stored in foods consumed for sustenance.  Vitamins play a key role in the control and regulation of enzymes, as well as, the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems.  Minerals in contrast to vitamins are inorganic compounds.  Minerals require no digestion, and some may even be stored in the liver.  Minerals are vital in the formation of strong bones and teeth, they also help control the nervous system, fluid balance, muscular contractions, as well as, some hormone functions and enzyme secretion.  Electrolytes provide the proper electrical charge within bodily fluids for the transmission of nerve impulses, muscular contraction, proper acid-base balance for ideal ph and overall fluid levels.  Without getting into specific detail of each particular vitamin, mineral, or electrolyte… The key take home message here is the importance of a balanced nutrition program, a quality vitamin/mineral supplement, and the significants of proper hydration and electrolyte replenishment.  As an athlete, the aforementioned elements are lost through sweat, respiration, physical, and mental stress to the body.  In order to perform at optimal levels at all times, I can’t stress enough the importance of proper nutrition and supplementation.  Intensely trained athletes don’t necessarily have a difference in micronutrient requirements than that of the average person… However, the requirement is typically far greater.

Many studies have been done on athletes using vitamin and mineral supplements.  The outcome is consistently the same,  supplemented athletes show greater performance, for longer periods of time then non-supplemented athletes.  It’s nice to think that it’s a possible to ingest the required amount of vitamins and minerals from one’s diet, but in today’s day and age of pesticides, preservatives, and poor soil quality it’s nearly impossible (I hate to be negative, but let’s be honest here).  I personally believe, as an elite athlete being spot on with one’s nutrition program AND giving an equal amount of attention to micronutrient supplementation based on vitamin/mineral testing is essential to performance.  This simple process will eliminate the guess work involved, ensuring each athlete knows exactly what he or she as an individual is lacking in order to attain… Ultimate Human Performance!

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