Top 3 Nutrients for Female Athletes

It's not always easy being a girl. Sometimes our bodies require some extra love and attention, and keeping track of our nutrients can be a challenge. Even when we do eat right, we don't always understand how our diet is helping us achieve our fitness goals.

Here is a list of three important nutrients for active females, and how they can help bring out your best performance.  

Iron

For athletes, this is a crucial mineral because of its major function in the formation of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin transports oxygen in the blood and myoglobin transports oxygen in the muscle cells, fueling our exercise.

Energy metabolism depends on iron, and athletes have higher requirements than sedentary individuals. Iron losses are common during exercises that involve the pounding of feet, such as running. Female athletes in particular tend to be deficient in iron.

Foods rich in iron include red meats, fish, whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, eggs, and fortified foods. Iron is more efficiently absorbed through animal sources, but absorption is improved if plant sources are accompanied by vitamin C-rich fruits or vegetables.

Calcium

Calcium is an important mineral for bone formation, muscle growth, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission. Again, most people think of dairy such as cow's milk for calcium sources, but other healthy sources include sardines, sesame seeds, spinach, collard greens, and turnip greens. Weight-bearing exercises such as running and weight training help increase bone mass and calcium absorption. Extra calcium is usually recommended for female athletes with low estrogen levels.

Vitamin C

This vitamin is important for the formation of connective tissue and certain hormones like adrenaline, which are produced during exercise. It also plays a role in the formation of red blood cells, which enhances iron absorption. It is an antioxidant, protecting against exercise-related cellular damage. A vitamin C supplement may be useful for prolonged, high-intensity training for reducing muscle soreness and promoting quick recovery.

Many people only think of citrus fruits as vitamin C sources, but many vegetables are also an amazing source of this nutrient. For example, a red, raw bell pepper has more vitamin C than an orange. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and kale are also high in vitamin C.

When it comes to top performance, many female athletes only feel as good as their last meal. Make sure you're eating right daily to power your workouts and reach your full potential.  

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