There are many vitamins and minerals that swimmers need, in the right amounts, to help optimize their performance in and out of the pool. In previous posts, we’ve talked about how Vitamin B12 helps your body after a swim meet, the importance of iron for swimmers’ performance, as well as the risks you face when you don’t get enough of these important nutrients. Zinc is one the micronutrients, which plays a vital role in swimmers’ performance and recovery, and naturally allows them to train harder to improve their times.
So, how should zinc fit into your nutrition plan, and what are the benefits of this vital mineral? Let’s explore why it’s important for swimmers to get enough zinc, as well as what can happen when your zinc levels are low.
What is Zinc used for?
Zinc is one of the 24 micronutrients humans need for survival. It is present in every tissue in the body and plays an important role in the functioning of the body’s hormone, enzyme, and immune systems. It is also a powerful antioxidant.
Zinc plays an important part in the growth, repair, and recovery of muscle tissue, which is a crucial part of any athlete’s training protocol. Low zinc levels can negatively impact on athletes’ muscle repair and overall recovery.
Zinc is also a powerful antioxidant, which is found in fish, meat, eggs, and legumes. The body does not have a specialized zinc storage system, so the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends a daily intake of zinc.
Your body loses zinc through sweat, and if not replenished by food can lead to a deficiency. Vegetarians, vegans, diabetics, and athletes who sweat a lot over a prolonged period are at a higher risk for zinc deficiencies. While zinc deficiencies are less common in the U.S. than other parts of the world, it is one of the more common micronutrient deficiencies in athletes.
Why should swimmers focus on their zinc intake?
According to a study published in Sports Medicine, mild zinc deficiencies are frequently seen in endurance athletes, defined as athletes who participate in a sport for an hour or more. Many swimmers fall into this category. Those who do not get sufficient amounts of zinc are at increased risk for muscle mass loss, lower endurance levels, and a higher risk for osteoporosis.
Low levels of zinc can reduce muscle strength, and increase recovery time, both of which could affect your performance.
How much zinc is enough?
The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for zinc is 11 milligrams per day for men, and 8 milligrams per day for women, aged 19 or older. However, endurance athletes might want to consider a higher zinc intake. Those following vegetarian diets that limit certain foods, such as animal proteins; those who are eating an unbalanced diet; or are female athletes, should also pay close attention their zinc intake.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency include decreased cardiorespiratory function during exercise, and reduced muscle strength, and athletic endurance. Over the longer term, a zinc deficiency may lead to significant loss of body weight, fatigue, decreased endurance and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Other symptoms, which have been associated with zinc deficiency include frequent diarrhea, memory loss, frequent colds, and thinning hair. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should check with your health professional and nutritionist. They will be able to help you make sure you are getting the right amount of zinc in your diet.
How can I get more zinc in my diet?
The right nutrition is a key component of any successful training plan for swimmers. Ensuring you’re getting the right amount of zinc should be part of this if you are looking to optimize your performance in and out of the pool. You can find zinc in animal proteins such as oysters, beef, chicken, pork and lamb, and in non-meat sources such as chickpeas, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and spinach. If you’re looking for a simpler way to get the right amount of zinc, you could supplement your diet with a nutritional shake. Something like the NutriBoost shake, which will give you 100% of the recommended daily value of the vitamins and minerals your body needs in 3 scoops, including zinc.
As always, a well-balanced diet is one of the best ways you can train your body for swim competitions. Don’t ignore this critical part of your success in the pool!
P2Life is family owned, performance-based, nutritional supplement company that was designed for swimmers, by swimmers, to protect health and promote performance. P2Life takes great care in ensuring that every batch of their performance line is tested to be free of banned and illegal substances. Even though P2Life products were the preferred choice for over 40% of the USA Men’s Olympic Swim team during the London Olympics, it is not just for Olympians. It is also the preferred choice for the top high school, collegiate and masters swimmers across the globe.
P2Life was founded by Tim Shead, a Masters Swimming Hall of Fame Inductee and 42x World Record Holder, and co-founded by Michael Shead, who was a national water polo player. Tim’s expertise in swimming and years of experience and knowledge working with nutritional products, combined with Michael’s love of innovation and technical background, has enabled the P2Life team to create a technologically savvy company that is dedicated to furthering athletic potential. P2Life has a strong e-commerce platform, which allows them to spend less time and funds on retail stores, and dedicate more time to the swimming community.
A Proven Track Record:
- Over 40% of the USA Men’s Olympic Swim Team were taking P2Life products during the London Olympics. The athletes brought back 12 medals, seven of which were gold.
- P2Life Masters Swimmers have over 700 World Records to their name.
- Michael Andrew, age group phenomenon, has been taking P2Life products since 2012. He now has over 75 NAG’s to his name.
Courtesy of PS Life, a SwimSwam ad partner.