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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