Archive | April, 2013

Zinc not necessary in sports nutrition?

I got an email this weekend from a trainer in Australia telling me that there is a sports doc out there who is against zinc supplementation. That got me thinking and wondering whether there is anything to it. What I came up with is that the doctor in question needs to start reading the literature instead of saying things that are just not right.

In the book, “Sports Nutrition: Minerals and Electrolytes” from CRC Press, edited by Kies and Driskell has a chapter on “Physical Exercise and Zinc Metabolism.” They looked at both acute and chronic exercise and levels before and after in erthyrocytes (red blood cells) as well as in plasma/serum. They report on the fact that “The presence of hypozincemia (low zinc) in trained athletes has since been reported…”

Another interesting comment is on vegetarian athletes, “Therefore, with prolonged suboptimal zinc status, it would be predicted that muscle zinc levels in vegetarians would decrease, with resulting reduced muscle strength and endurance.” Note the last part of the statement which suggests that low zinc would result in lower muscle strength and endurance.” So for a sports doctor to conclude that zinc supplementation is “BS”, would come from a lack of understanding of the physiology of minerals and athletics.

Some of their conclusions include:
“Acute, as well as chronic, exercise induces an alteration in zinc distribution in human blood.”
“An increase in erthyrocyte CA-I-derived zinc concentration and/or a decrease in plasma albumin-bound zinc concentration may portend hypozincemia during physical training.”
In the 4 page chapter, they cite 71 references.
Makes one wonder why the sports doctor is against supplementation when it is clear that exercise will diminish zinc levels. While there are increases in intracellular levels post-exercise, total plasma and whole blood show decreases.
So, for those of you who wonder whether zinc supplementation is warranted as part of a good sports nutrition program, the answer is yes.
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Sodium Potassium Balance & Muscle Groups

At my last Art and Science of Biochemical Individuality class in the UK, I taught a segment on the influence of sodium and potassium on balanced appearance and muscle groups. This concept was originally taught to me by my mentor, the late John Kitkoski. The idea that you can determine electrolyte balance based on appearance has wide implications and can help find out why some individuals may have problems building certain muscle groups.

The first step in determining imbalances in sodium and potassium is to look a t a persons face. The left side is influenced by sodium and the right side by potassium. If the persons left side is drooping, consider a sodium deficiency (not as rare as you may think). Conversely, if the right side is droopy, then consider a potassium deficiency (very common). One of the best ways to practice this is to watch news anchors and reporters as they typically stare straight into the camera..

The next idea is understand how sodium and potassium affect muscles. Some of you might remember the frog leg experiment from junior high school. When a sodium solution is poured on the frog’s leg, it contracts. When a potassium solution is poured on it, it relaxes. Hence, sodium is important in muscle contraction and potassium is important in muscle relaxation. Bear this in mind when you look at which muscle group sodium and potassium control.

Sodium is important in the both the bicep and hamstring while potassium is important in the tricep and quadricep. Sometimes, when someone has a problem developing one of these muscle groups, their electrolyte balance is off. One caveat is that working on specific electrolytes can easily cause an imbalance which is why I always recommend a balanced electrolyte solution. This is why I developed the Synerplex electrolyte series as I believe that electrolyte balance is key to optimal health and performance.

Next blog, I will talk about the importance of electrolyte balance in adrenal function as well as the reason why humans developed a mechanism to retain sodium but not potassium.

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