Minerals are inorganic elements.
Minerals are combined together to form the rocks that make up the earth’s crust.
In the human body, minerals play a more dynamic and vital role, especially during exercise.
Minerals serve as the rocks upon which cellular reactions take place.
Their physical surface provides the space where enzymes and substrates meet, where nerve transmissions occur and where energy transactioons take place.
In fact, most molecular activities could not occur if minerals were not present.
There are eight major minerals (calcium, chlorine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulfur) required by the human body in suffient amounts and other trace minerals, required in much smaller amounts.
They are all essential to good health.
Minerals make up four percent of total body weight.
Each mineral has a unique structural and regulatory roles.
A mineral is considered structural when it is an integral part of the cell.
In their regulatory roles, it is the concentration of the specific mineral that effects the biological reactions they are a part of. These regulatory functions include electrolyte balance, muscle contractility and nerve transmission.
The contraction of muscle tissue and the resulting movement of bones depend on the presence of calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium and iron.
Phosphorpous is needed to power the contraction while sulfur is used to maintain strength.
The trace minerals boron, chromium, and manganese are also of considerable importance to exercise and its recovery.
Bone is a hard, calcified tissue. Bone supports the body and protects all its vital organs, including the brain, lungs, heart and marrow.
Bone also acts as a reservoir of calcium and phosphates and contributes to acid-base balance by their release.
The ability to load skeletal muscle is linked to the density and architecture of the underlying bone, which responds to the demands placed on it by increasing or decreasing its mass.
This occurs by the mineralization of bone with calcium. The bigger the load placed on it, the stronger the bone becomes.
Calcium is essential for normal growth and development. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and bone contains 99% of it. Calcium is generally found in the form of calcium phosphate. In addition to its function in building and maintaining bones and teeth, calcium is an important cofactor required in many enzymatic reactions. These reactions include the contraction of muscle, the release of neurotransmitters, the clotting of blood and the regulation of the heart rate. Calcium serves the function of nerve nutrient since it is involved in the electrical transmissions of nerve signals. Calcium deficiency can result in muscle cramps especially in the muscles of the back and legs.
Calcium homeostasis is important to the body’s skeleton. The concentration of blood calcium is regulated by parathyroid hormone (parathormone) in conjunction with Vitamin D. There is a continuous exchange of calcium between different ‘calcium pool’ sites in the body. There is roughly 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of calcium in the body, 99% of which is stored in bone. Ten grams therefore, is the only amount available for all other cell processes and metabolic reactions. During growth, calcium balance remains positive with more calcium consumed than excreted. During adulthood, calcium remains in equilibrium and is finely regulated. Late in life, calcium excretion exceeds its intake and must be remedied through the diet. Parathormone increases blood calcium levels. Specialized cells within the thyroid gland secrete calcitonin, a hormone that lowers calcium levels by increasing its concentration in bone. These two glands produce opposing hormones (parathormone and calcitonin) that regulate calcium levels.
Magnesium is an essential mineral with multiple metabolic roles. These include its involvement in protein synthesis and role in muscle contraction. Magnesium also plays a vital role in metabolism, glycolysis, membrane permeability and active transport. Magnesium is required in the conversion of ATP to ADP, with the release of energy used to power biological reactions. Magnesium is important for protein formation, DNA production and nerve conduction. Magnesium helps maintain intracellular potassium levels and blocks the entry of excessive calcium into the cell. Magnesium slows the release of adrenaline from the adrenal gland and plays a central role in the production and secretion of insulin. Magnesium therefore helps regulate blood glucose levels. Magnesium is embedded in glucose metabolism and helps delay fatigue from carbohydrate depletion. Magnesium inhibits platelet sticking and raises HDL-cholesterol levels (the good cholesterol), which helps prevent atherosclerosis. High levels of Magnesium can prevent muscle spasms. Magnesium is a calcium channel-blocker, which blocks the entry of calcium into vascular smooth muscle thus relaxing arterial muscle walls. This lowers vascular resistance and reduces blood pressure. Magnesium supplements are recommended to improve endurance. Manganese Manganese is an essential nutrient that functions as a coenzyme in blood sugar regulation, energy metabolism and thyroid hormone function. Manganese is required for the synthesis of proteoglycans. Manganese is an integral component of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). Superoxide dismutase prevents the deleterious effects of the super oxide free radical from destroying cell components. Superoxide dismutase also limits the oxidative damage done during aerobic metabolism. Due to the increased activity of SOD, manganese supplements may be useful in treating sprains, strains and inflammation. Boron Boron is an obscure ultra-trace mineral that has a beneficial effect on bone metabolism via interactions with calcium and magnesium. Boron is necessary for the action of vitamin D, the hormone vitamin that stimulates the absorption and utilization of calcium. Boron has attracted attention as an anabolic steroid alternative possibly due to a purported increase in production of testosterone. Boron is also believed to play a role in joint health and may retard the progression of osteoarthritis. Boron may also prevent osteoporosis. The misinformation directed at athletes is best exemplified in the following account of Boron. Boron supplements given to post-menopausal women for 48 days (after they had been deprived of boron for four months) doubled their serum testosterone levels. The continued administration of boron supplementation to these post-menopausal women did not increase their testosterone levels and boron supplementation to males failed to increase their serum testosterone levels at all. However, these results were completely misinterpreted and used as advertisements in muscle magazines touting boron supplements for increasing serum testosterone levels. Chromium Chromium is a trace element, which enhances glucose utilization and effects lipid metabolism. Through its effect on insulin receptors on cell membranes, chromium aids glucose entrance into cells. Chromium helps maintain cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride plasma levels. Selenium Selenium is an antioxidant mineral that works synergistically with Vitamin E. Selenium prevents oxidative damage and tissue deterioration brought on by free radical attack. Selenium is contained in the enzyme glutathione peroxidase. Glutathione is an antioxidant enzyme that neutralizes the free radical generator, hydrogen peroxide. Since high amounts of free radicals are produced during exercise, selenium and glutathione peroxidase, play important roles as antioxidants protecting membrane and tissues from free radical destruction. Iron The importance of iron for exercise performance relates to its role as the integral and essential component of two proteins, hemoglobin and cytochromes. These proteins are essential for oxygen transport and the generation of cellular energy during aerobic metabolism. These two functions are major determinants of fatigue. While iron status may affect performance, it is doubtful that male athletes are deficient in iron and therefore do not require iron supplements. Electrolytes Nearly all the chemical reactions that occur in cells depend on fluid (water) and electrolyte balance. Potassium, sodium and chloride are electrolytes (mineral salts that conduct electricity when dissolved in water). Electrolytes are always found in pairs. They are paired because of the need to offset each other’s electrical charge. Cations are positively charged molecules (sodium and potassium), while anions (chloride) are negatively charged ions. All communications between muscles and nerve depends on the flow of electric current or electrons within each cell. Skeletal muscle is stimulated by signals sent via motor neurons. Information about the outcome of muscle action is sent back to the brain where the information is interpreted. As a result new signals are transmitted to muscles. This elaborate feedback system depends on the precise balance of concentrations of the electrically charged particles. The concentration of electrolytes both inside and outside of cells must be maintained within very narrow limits. Electrolytes function to control the activity within and communications between each cell in the body. The Athlete’s Principals Athletes are built as upright vertebrates. Their bodies contain bones, which provide a skeleton or framework upon which soft tissues attach. The function of the skeleton is to provide stiff, rigid resistance to the force of gravity and still provide enough flexibility for movement. A cranium that protects the brain centers the skeleton. An S-shaped, flexible column of bone supports the cranium. The column appears strait when viewed from the front or back. The column is made of a series of vertebra (odd shaped bones) joined together by a series of ligaments and disks. This gives the vertebral column some flexibility and protects the spinal chord from injury. The flexible head sits between two shoulders. Each shoulder articulates with an arm that is made up of three bones. The three bones are joined by an elbow. The lower arm articulates with a wrist, from which a hand is attached. The connection between the shoulders and the hips is via the trunk. It is made up by the vertebral column and the large muscles of the back and abdomen. The strength of this connection helps keep the skeleton remain balanced. Two hips anchor the trunk. Each hip articulates with a leg. The leg is made up three bones joined at the knee. The lower leg articulates with an ankle from which a foot is attached. Normal posture maintains an erect and slightly curved spine with the two shoulders and two hips parallel to the ground. The longer an athlete can remain in this position the better the body can resist the forces that cause injury. Once an injury occurs, athletes will develop compensations to reduce the load on the affected structure. This unconscious response is more serious than the injury itself. This is similar to arthritis where the cellular response to inflammation is more damaging than the actual injury. Health is best maintained by a daily series of functional and aerobic exercises, plenty of water, the complete spectrum of micronutients and the fuel provided by colorful foods. Aerobic exercise increases the oxygen carrying and delivery capacity of the blood, improves its lipid profile, strengthens immunity and improves mood. Functional exercises on the other hand, enables the skeleton to maintain posture and better resist the force of gravity by strengthening core muscles. These exercises also improves flexibility by engaging the limbs through a full range of movements. Hindered movement is caused by arthritis, compensations and inactivity. This program recommends a series of functional exercises and biomuscular programs to correct imbalances and eliminate compensations. They should be incorporated into a daily routine. 1. Intense, daily exercise is the engine of health. The two or three times a week that many athletes’ busy schedules allows is not enough. Nor is the thirty minutes of moderate exercise that doctors recommend. 2. Physical activity should include both resistance training and aerobic exercise. Functional exercises, like those designed by Chek, Egoscue, Verstegen, Santana and Pilates, are highly recommended. 3 Botanical supplements are recommended because they help minimize inflammation and prepare the body for the metabolic consequences of exercise. 4. A High carbohydrate diet, adequate hydration, rest and nutritional replenishment are the keys to a speedy recovery. Plants and Antioxidant Rich Diets The sight, smell, sound and texture of food is the result of an interaction between the library of compounds contained in food and the membrane receptors of the eyes, nose and mouth. These interactions between phytonutrients and receptors make eating a joy. The interaction of other phytochemicals are responsible for the other benefits provided by plants, improved health. The Athlete’s Solution is based on the theory that plants contain active antioxidants that serve a dual role of suppressing inflammation and quenching free radicals. Fragrant herbs for example, not only lend flavor to food, but also possess strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. These foods therefore can improve exercise by minimizing the inflammation and swelling that follows it. This promotes faster recoveries and an overall improvement in health. The meals in this program are filled with colorful, complex, carbohydrates and healthy fats. They provide enough calories to fuel exercise, enough antioxidants to quench the free radicals produced as a result of exercise, and enough fiber to safely eliminate harmful metabolites from the colon. In addition, an assortment of supplements including vitamins, minerals, the ultra-important omega-3 fatty acids, and a library of colorful pigments supplied by the plant world, are all recommended. Plants compounds are thus essential to sustaining and prolonging human life based on the arsenal of antioxidants they contain. Antioxidants are needed in much higher amounts in order to neutralize the huge number and variety of free radicals produced as a consequence of exercise. Antioxidants are needed by sedentary people as well, but their inactivity causes less demand for them. The colorful ingredients of plants are its pigment molecules, which are necessary for both the plant’s and our’s survival. These phytocompounds are synthesized by the plant because the plant needs protection from its harsh environment. These same compounds protect human cells in their harsh environments. Cell health is dependent on the consumption of plants containing their library of unique antioxidants. Without their phytochemical factories, the plants would perish. The pigments they synthesize are used to ward off the plant’s constant exposure to the sun. Solar radiation produces unstable free radicals in plant cells. These altered compounds are as dangerous to plants as they are to humans. Free radicals are dangerous molecules that are harmful to cells. They initiate cell damage and target the structures of blood vessels, joints, nerves, membrane receptors, the macula of the eye and skin. These molecular injuries initiate the chronic diseases of arthritis, atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, dementia, macula degeneration, and premature wrinkling. Therefore, the key to long-term health is preventing the creation of harmful compounds or at least in neutralizing them once they are formed. That is the role that plant antioxidants play. The need for diversity and a library of antioxidants can not be overstated. High doses of a few agents is useless for the following reason. Free radicals that target the inflammatory sites of joints require one set of specific antioxidant, while those that attack the liver and other organs require another. Some are specific to prevent the oxidation of genetic material (DNA). DNA activity is very high following exercise and is thus very prone to oxidative attack. DNA activity is high because protein building is needed to help the athlete recover from exercise. Antioxidants and Recovery The Athlete’s Solution is a return to the original meaning of the word ‘Diet’ or way of living. Its first premise is that activity and exercise are part of its Diet with all nutritional needs becoming increased as a consequence. It then follows that the foods and meals consumed must meet those needs in order to safely fuel exercise and support the body’s recovery from it. Athletes therefore need more complex carbohydrates, more water, more vitamins and minerals, and more antioxidants in their diet. Exercise stimulates the formation of catabolic enzymes, which are used to breakdown glucose, amino acids and fatty acids and converting their stored energy into the biologically useful form of energy known as ATP. During this process there are many free radicals produced. Even more are formed after exercise when the body repays its oxygen debt as it perfuses its muscles with blood and oxygen. Moreover, since exercise required the body to release its store of macronutrients (glycogen, protein and fat) to fuel muscle movement, these also need to be replenished following exercise. Exercise also stimulates an inflammatory response and growth to repair and build new muscle. An athlete’s recovery therefore depends on the repair of damaged ligaments, joints and muscle fibers and repressing the inflammation that accompanies the damage. These harmful effects must be balanced by the body’s healing systems. Plant antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents aid this process. The success of athletes is based on their ability to repress inflammation and restore their lost fluids and electrolytes. Recovery is therefore essential to both athletic performance and long-term health. The chronic disease of arthritis is escalated by oxidative damage caused by free radicals. The original injury produces damaged components in a joint, which are immediately attacked by free radicals. As more damage occurs and damaged components accumulate, this molecular debris becomes the foci of inflammation and further free radical attack. The initial damage progresses to full blown disease when the inflammatory response destroys function. Should antioxidants fail to prevent the initial attack, its progression can still be stopped by repressing the body’s inflammatory response to it. Fortunately for athletes, the same antioxidants that neutralize sunlight in plants, can mitigate the damaging effects of exercise and its progression to arthritis. The diseases implicated in having an origin in oxidative damage includes: arthritis, atherosclerosis, cancer, cirrhosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cataracts, hypertension, nutritional diabetes, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Antioxidants help athletes maintain health by protecting the integrity of their cell’s membranes and the DNA blueprints contained in their cell’s nucleus. Antioxidants also prevent attack on the different types of lipoproteins (HDL, LDL and VLDL) in their blood. Oxidized lipoproteins are more dangerous to health than the unoxidized lipoproteins. Antioxidants are needed in higher amounts due to exercise. High antioxidant diets reduce the risk of developing the aforementioned chronic diseases.