Iron is one of the minerals of concern to some athletes. In blood, iron is responsible for carrying oxygen to body cells and removing carbon dioxide.
Athletes who may be at risk for iron deficiency fall into one of four classifications:
- a) Females - due to loss of iron through menstrual blood and, possibly, lower iron intakes
- b) Adolescent males - due to extra needs of iron in the growth stage
- c) Vegetarian athletes - due to lack of red meats that contribute iron and other nutrients needed for blood production
- d) Endurance athletes - due to a greater that usual loss of iron through sweat
"Sports anemia" is a term often used to describe a low hemoglobin condition that is relatively common at the beginning of training. Exhaustion and fatigue characterize it. After adaptation to training, sports anemia seems to subside. The severity and exact causes of this condition have not yet been determined. Possible explanations for this condition are inadequate dietary iron intakes by athletes or the use of protein for tasks other than red blood cell production during the early training stages.
Twinlab makes a good iron supplement called Iron 18 Mg. If you decide to take it just use it the first weeks of your training then back off. Follow the directions on the bottle too.
ZMA is a dietary supplement containing zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6. ZMA has been subject of many very impressive studies showing its endurance and strength enhancing benefits. The minerals, zinc and magnesium, are heavily used by the body during exercise. Many athletes are deficient in these important nutrients. As well as, enhancing strength, endurance, healing, recovery and muscle growth. And, ZMA is a very effective sleep aid.
Studies proving ZMA's effectiveness Here is a study done by Washington University's Football Department. It showed that ZMA increased free testosterone levels and muscle strength in NCAA football players. After 8 weeks of taking ZMA strength increased by ~12% and a 30% increase in free and total testosterone was reported.
Another study done by V. Conte, BALCO Laboratories on a University football team showed impressive results. The team had their blood drawn at the beginning and the end of an 8-week period of intensive training. Subjects were either supplemented with ZMA or placebo for the 8-week period. The blood that was drawn from the subjects after the ZMA intake had an increase in testosterone by 32.4%! The subjects taking the placebo actually decreased!
The recommended dosage is around 30mg of zinc monomethionine/aspartate, 450 mg of magnesium aspartate and 10.5mg of vitamin B6. When you take it varies but studies have shown it's most affective if you take it before bedtime.
There are several good ZMA's out there but there are a few that I like the best. If you want to sleep like a baby use the Higher Power ZMA Nightime Formula...It's great! Just make sure you buy them from a good company.
Hopefully after reading this article you'll see the importance and gains from these minerals and vitamins. But never forget, that it's the main diet that comes first, then the supplements. Good luck with your training!!!