Winter is here and the running is right,
so lace up your shoes and pull on your tights
But with sniffles galore and the chill in the air,
Your run may be slowed and your training in despair
So put down the tissues and ramp up the rest,
Zinc may be able to get you back to your best.
Zinc is an essential nutrient that is involved in over 200 enzyme reactions within our body. It is vital to our immune function (it is a powerful antioxidant), improves carbon dioxide transport in the lungs, reduces lactic acid levels in overworked muscles, wound healing, injury recovery and to the hormone insulin.
Zinc is also useful in treating skin conditions, is important in digestive functions and necessary for bone mineralisation.
Runners lose zinc through sweat, urine and solid wastes. So if your zinc stores are already low you may be at risk of further deficiency. This can then impact on insulin release which is essential for the recovery of many of our cellular nutrients which are depleted after strenuous exercise. Research has shown that by ensuring there is enough zinc in your diet you can improve your energy production and therefore your cardiovascular endurance.
Reduced zinc levels can also contribute to increased fatigued and low energy and reduced endurance capacity....when you run the long kilometres it is important to put back the nutrients that the body burns to enable you to both keep running and improving.
Our digestive system needs zinc for carbohydrate and protein metabolism. Zinc is needed for us to break down the protein into amino acids so that we can build and repair the muscles that we break down when we exercise and then rebuild to be bigger, better and stronger than ever.
In winter, our immune systems are working overtime protecting us from the bugs that surround us. Research shows that our immune system takes a hit after strenuous exercise which puts us at an increased risk of viral infections. Ensuring that there is adequate zinc in your diet can improve your immune function, protect you from the winter chills and keep you out running for longer.
Common Factors that can cause Zinc Deficiency
Feeling stressed???- When the body is under stress (mental, emotional or physical stress) the need for zinc is increased
Acute or chronic infections- zinc is needed for immune and healing
Growth periods- especially teenage boys and pregnant ladies
If you take the contraceptive pill- the pill increases the level of copper in the body and therefore reduces the amount of zinc available
Diet- Refined foods are low in zinc and a diet which is high in these foods will put you at risk of zinc deficiency.
Gut dysfunction or malabsorption issues- unable to breakdown and assimilate the zinc
How much do I need and which foods should I be eating?
The RDA of zinc is 15mg -20mg per day for an adult but the supplementary range is wider. If you think you may have a zinc deficiency check with your natural health practitioner and they can perform a simple test to confirm. Not all forms of zinc are absorbed equally so speak to your practitioner to ensure a form that is right for you.
Foods High in Zinc Include:
Oysters- very high!!
Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
Black-eyed peas...and not the band!!
So think zinc this winter and include the above foods in your diet to keep you powering on through this winter running season.
Happy Healthy Running