Amy Hodgetts asks Frankie Brogan, Senior Nutritionist at nutritional healthcare experts Pharma Nord, about the benefits of taking nutrients in injury recovery.
It’s difficult to avoid injury in any sport, and that includes running. Obviously running takes many different forms, whether it’s track, cross-country, or some other terrain. When it comes to this sport it really is you against the world around you, whether that’s the ground under your feet or the weather conditions. But, one way for runners to help safeguard against lasting injuries is to consider intake of nutrients.
Omega 3 is found in oily fish like mackerel and sardines. This essential fatty acid helps to protect against inflammation which plays a part in many injuries and can also slow recovery. It also has an important role in the body’s energy supply process and has been used to increase resistance to fatigue in athletes. Omega 3 also helps to keep joints and tissues well lubricated, which can prevent injury, as well as supporting a healthy immune system.
Athletes are advised to intake a high-quality fish oil such as Bio-Fish Oil every day. The omega 3 is derived from the flesh of the fish which is a superior source than oil from the liver.
Water is vital for everyone, regardless of being an athlete or not! Sometimes we forget to stay hydrated and this can leave us lacking energy. Water is an important medium to transport nutrients around our bodies and also where metabolic reactions essential for our bodies to function take place. If joints or tissues are dehydrated, they are more susceptible to tears and injury. Fluid requirements change depending on factors such as physical activity and age, but as a general rule we must consume a minimum of one litre of water from food and drink per day, with two litres being optimal.
Calcium and vitamins
Athletes ought to consider their bones just as much as their muscles. The human skeleton consists of 206 bones, with over 200 individual joints connecting them. Physical activity can place enormous stress on our joints and bones and so it’s important to consider the nutrients that can strengthen them, particularly as we age.
Magnesium is crucial for bone health. Magnesium works together with calcium so it is important to achieve the right balance of these minerals. Foods to add to your diet include beans, nuts and whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat bread. If choosing a supplement to top up your levels, choose one with the hydroxide acetate and carbonate forms of magnesium as they can be best absorbed by your body. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 400mg/day.
Vitamin D3 can also be beneficial for bone health as vitamin D is needed to ensure the absorption of calcium. Up to 50 per cent of adults in the UK are thought to be deficient in vitamin D3, which is also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, due to our limited exposure to sunlight.
Vitamin K2 works in harmony with calcium and vitamin D3. As D3 helps calcium absorb into the blood, K2 helps ensure calcium enters the bone by activating the protein osteocalcin, used by bone building cells.
For joint health, look into MSM and silica intake. MSM is a naturally occurring sulphur which can be found in foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. Silica is found in plant derived foods like unrefined cereals and rice. Both have an important role in the forming of bone and joint tissues and bone mineralisation, but they are readily lost from foods during food processing. Taking an MSM and silica supplement can help to reduce any joint pain and increase joint mobility too.
Taking part in sports helps to strengthen muscle tissue. Taking part in a triathlon has the added benefit of working different muscle groups but this can result in soreness and fatigue. So, how can we protect our muscles from fatigue and ensure we have enough energy?
Our cells need coenzyme Q10 in order to produce energy. Some can be found in food, but most is produced within our bodies. The challenge is our natural Q10 levels decline from our mid-twenties, which can leave us and our muscles feeling tired and weak, increasing our chances of injury. Pharma Nord was the first company to introduce Q10 supplements to Europe more than 30 years ago, so if you’re in need of a top up you could try Bio-Quinone Q10.
The best way to get these nutrients is to have a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables though some nutrients such as K2, D3 and Q10 are difficult to get from the diet. Some nutrients, for example magnesium, are depleted by intense physical exercise and so it’s important to think about what you may be deficient in, and to take supplements to overcome this.