Guest Blog by Arland Hill, DC, MPH, DACBN
Most athletes become very driven to excel in the sport in which they compete. These aspirations require great dedication to not only a regimented training schedule, but also to higher intensity levels and training volume. Regardless of the sport, great demands are placed on the bodies of athletes. Most of these are secondary to higher levels of oxygen uptake, constant flirting with catabolism and the need to generate energy more frequently. Most of these are related to nutrient status in some way and underscore the importance of an athlete maximizing their training routine, but also their diet and supplement regimen to stay at peak performance.
The final stages of energy production are dependent on adequate supplies of oxygen. Without oxygen, fatigue and lethargy quickly set in and the ability to produce ATP, the primary energy molecule, is quickly curtailed. While this is an issue for some athletes, the opposite is true for the majority of the athletic population. Most athletes are constantly pushing themselves, thus the need for greater levels of oxygen. With more oxygen come higher levels of oxidative stress, also termed free radical production. This is characteristically noted as low or marginally low vitamin E, selenium, glutathione and Spectrox. This pattern presents as a result of the damage brought forth by oxidative stress. The lower nutrient profiles are the efforts of the body to offset this damage. Ironically, this is a pattern similar to that seen in some chronic disease states.
It is almost impossible to train at a higher level and not undergo some degree of catabolism. The key however is to minimize this breakdown process and compliment it with an anabolic, or building response. Maintenance of an anabolic state is imperative to continued progression. Many areas are sacrificed when the balance between anabolism and catabolism is lost. One area that appears to be most affected is protein balance. Protein balance can be monitored through glutamine stores. Glutamine, the most abundant amino acid in muscle tissue, is rapidly processed during higher intensity activity. The affects don’t just end at muscle tissue however, but cross over into gastrointestinal health and immune function. This in part explains why athletes become more susceptible to changes in immune health when they are really pushing themselves.
The ability to perform at the highest level requires the immediate need to produce energy. Energy production is not one step, but multiple. Moreover it is a factor of being able to derive energy from all the major macronutrients; carbohydrates, fats and protein. These macronutrients require many of the B vitamins as well as some of the minerals to help produce energy. Apart from those nutrients, the last step in energy production, also known as the electron transport chain, requires reliable amounts of CoQ10. Conversely, energy production cannot be limited to just the energy production pathways, but must also be linked to the delivery of oxygen as the aerobic energy cycles are far more efficient. This requires healthy red blood cells, for which the nutrients B12, folate, iron and copper are required.
While athletes trying to achieve excellence must put in the necessary hours of training, they must also properly fuel their body and monitor the need to support it nutritionally. Routine micronutrient testing provides a window into the metabolic needs of the athlete helping them to achieve maximum performance.
Arland Hill, DC, MPH, DACBN - Complete Care Chiropractic and Wellness