Minerals are inorganic by nature, and can all be found on the periodic table we loved so much during our school days. By that reckoning, you can think of them all as elements as well.
Nearly everything we consume has minerals, along with the vitamins I discussed in Part 1. It is quite literally true that ‘we are what we eat’.
Therefore an optimal level of each one of these essential minerals is just as important as their organic vitamin counterparts. Organic Vitamins and inorganic Minerals will work with each other in countless ways, imperceptible to our conscience, toward the betterment of our physical well-being.
Like Part 1 of this two-parter, I will try and keep this information within the context of physical performance, after all, you’re not here for a science lecture.
Minerals and Supplements
In Part 1 – Vitamins, I stated that vitamins and minerals cannot really be viewed as ergogenic (that which improves performance), as they are by nature ‘essential’.
The simple difference is that supplements can be ergogenic because they are supplemented i.e. added to our base diet, whereas optimal levels of ‘essential’ minerals and elements (those which we must source from our diet) simply prevent a deficiency of some sort.
Supplements can allow us to increase our output. Vitamins and Minerals can only give us the optimum base platform from which to do so.
That said, if you ask an endurance triathlete whether Sodium – an electrolyte – is ergogenic, he or she will probably say ‘absolutely’.
- bones: it is their base mineral
- muscle contractions
- biology of cells
- increasing serum testosterone levels
Calcium is an electrolyte – we lose these when we sweat and must replace them to continue exercising. Water alone may not always be sufficient after copious perspiration.
- supports insulin sensitivity in muscle tissue, which helps it to;
- facilitate storage of glycogen in muscles; and
- help metabolize glucose
- red blood cell function
- oxygen delivery to muscles
Deficiency: known to lead to anemia – a medical condition in which red blood cell concentrations are reduced. Dietary deficiency rare in men.
- important for muscle contraction (like calcium, it is an electrolyte)
- oxygen transport
- metabolism of glucose
- physiology of cells
- production of energy at every exercise intensity
- cell membrane stability
- synthesis of DNA
Note: to go against the earlier comment about supplementation; studies show phosphorous can be loaded for a few days prior to endurance races or exercise to enhance performance. Message us for details on phosphorous loading.
IMPORTANT: Too much potassium can be dangerous and you should never supplement it above multi-vitamin level unless a Doctor says otherwise.
- metabolism of glucose
- regulating the body’s water balance
- functioning of cells in muscle and heart amongst others
- helps anti-oxidants form (thereby reducing free radicals produced from oxidative stress)
- thyroid function support
Note: free radicals damage cells and could ultimately be the cause of some cancers
- synthesis of testosterone
- immune system support
NOTE: deficiency is rare but could explain some men lacking testosterone and getting sick a lot. Zinc is another one that shouldn’t be over-supplemented as it can mess with your cholesterol and the absorption of key elements.
At the risk of repeating myself from Part 1, it’s important to take a multi-vitamin, especially if you feel you lead an active life, or a stressful one, or both. Even if your life is sedentary and stress free, the likelihood that you cover all of you vitamin and mineral requirements all the time is low.
A multi-vitamin (with minerals) is insurance. The truth is, when you are ticking all the boxes, you won’t really notice the benefit until you are months into the routine and you wonder when the last time you were really sick was. Sometimes that’s what it takes to realize the benefit of something.
After you have fulfilled your body’s basic health requirements, you can then look to supplements to improve your performance and body composition alongside your training schedule and nutrition plan.
We review some of the best quality supplements that are available. On this site the supplements we look at are generally geared towards boosting your natural growth hormone levels, in order to help your body become a more anabolic environment.
If you are interested in learning more about these supplements and their interaction with human growth hormone levels, please follow the link below.
Click here to read about growth hormone and related supplements