Two Key Nutrients for Tough Mothers and All Athlete's

Two Key Nutrients for Tough Mothers and All Athlete's

?Over the past few years I’ve had the pleasure to work with Allison Tai.

Female athletes can struggle with recovery more than their male counterparts because of the fluctuating hormones in their bodies. The female system does not in particular enjoy being at a lower body fat percentage because of the sheer strain it can place on the system. And racing ultra distances in particular, has a tendency to make participating athletes very lean. This is fine for a period of time. But the longer an athlete operates at a lower body fat percentage the greater likelihood they will incur nutritional deficiencies and affect hormone production in a negative way.

From what I seen, Allison is very aware of this and as a result takes very good care of herself. She tracks her food often and eats really well. All while raising 2 kids, balances her racing career and owning and operating a gym. She has great support from her husband John but regardless she's super woman.

Based on the demands of her training, and some of the negative health consequences females have faced in her sport, I suggested she visited a Naturopath for some preventative maintenance. With the use of proper testing you can find out what the optimal levels of particular nutrients are in order to encourage better health and performance overall. This kind of information is something you usually have the pay for unless you have a very progressive Doctor. Otherwise they are only concerned with the minimum amount to prevent disease or reverse the effects after it's too late. There is little money to be made in supplements, so marketing and promotion is weak.

Two things stood out in Allison's test:
Calcium was at 390ug/g with a reference range of 300-1700ug/g
Magnesium was at 20ug/g with a reference range of 25-140ug/g

If this continued through her racing season it could compromise her results. And once a deficiency is prominent. It is not an overnight fix. I can take at least 4 weeks in some cases to build up your stores. Many more if your diet consist primarily of refined foods.

One important note. I don't recommend you supplement calcium unless you've had a test done. I'll explain this at the end of the article.

The two nutrients I will focus on are the two most common deficiencies: Vitamin D and magnesium. An athlete should supplement these regardless of testing. Female and male.

These supplements will not make you feel like you have a new-found energy. But as you can see in the analysis of the research, these items work on a micro level to help prevent sickness, promote recovery and support performance.

Vitamin D is tested through blood. You can have this done, however most doctors will not run the test anymore because of the cost and the knowledge that the greater majority of people in Canada and the Northern US is deficient.

Most sources give you basic reasons to supplement vitamin D and magnesium. To help I want to give you the specific reasons to supplement as an athlete so you can understand why this is a concern and why you should stay on top of it.

Vitamin D
Is Metabolize by the sun. UV index has be at least 3 in order for you not to need supplementation in your diet. Year round this only happens around the equator.

In the summer if you spend a great deal of time outside, you can skip the supplementation until you get a cloudy period. If you live in Vancouver like Allison, you will get lots of cloudy periods. ;)

Ranges are as follows:
Deficiency (Less than 30nmol/L or 12ng/mL, leading to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults)
Insufficiency (between 30-50nmol/L, the range of 12-20ng/mL)
Adequate (between 50-125mol/L, or 20-50ng/mL)
High (above 125nmol/L or 50ng/mL)

Peaople with darker skin are especially at higher risk of low vitamin D levels in northern climates.

Vitamin D3 made from animals is superior over D2 in terms of absorption.

4000iu's per day appears to be the best recommendation in terms of increasing vitamin D levels. The RDI is low and will not likely supply optimal levels. Visit Dr. Rhonda Patrick's website Found My Fitness for an explanation of why.

Take vitamin D with a meal or a source of fat as it is a fat-soluble vitamin. Taking it with Fish oil will work as fish oil is a fat source.

Vitamin D has been associated with a longer lifespan and decrease risk of diseases. It has been estimated that at a lower dose of 1000iu's a day in the US and Europe, we would reduce the cost of cancer treatment by 16-25 billion dollars by creating a preventative effect. (40)

In terms of athletics:

Vitamin D is involved in muscle protein synthesis. There appears to be impairments to physical function and reduced skeletal muscle hypertrophy in mice. (1,2,3)

Vitamin D has been associated with increase power output. (4)

It is a tissue selective aromatase modulator. Meaning it helps promote bone growth and repair when needed. This mechanism has also been found to reduce joint pain. Let me tell you, if you are jumping over walls in training, running down hills, your bones are sustaining a lot of damage and will need vitamin D to help in the recovery process. (5,6,7)

Lower vitamin D levels can increase depressive symptoms. No concrete evidence to say it will improve your mood. But definitely is a consideration for athletes who are pre-disposed to depression. (8,9,10)

Vitamin D levels at 85nmol/L have been shown to improve sleep quality assessed by REM. Good sleep is the number one recovery mechanism for athletes. And research is showing we are getting less of it than ever. (11,12,13)

There's been evidence to show higher chance of illness and injury in particular stress fractures for athletes. (14,15,16,17)

Vitamin D has been found to normalize testosterone. With lower vitamin D, testosterone can be reduced as well. (18,19,20)

Vitamin D status has a link to improved lung function by exhalation. (21)

Potentially lower risk of getting the flu. (22,23,24)

A deficiency may accentuate age related loss of muscle function. (25)

Improves calcium absorption. (26)


A essential dietary mineral and the second most important electrolyte.

Standard dose is 200-400mg best taken through a diglycinate or gluconate.

Take it separately from calcium as both minerals can compete for absorption.

You can get enough out of your diet if you eat lots of vegetables from nutrient rich soil, or sea plants. However, a majority of people in the western countries have been found to be deficient. So their appears to be less magnesium in our food supply.

In terms of athletics:

As an electrolyte magnesium helps to maintain fluid balance. It is a cofactor involved in making ATP and creatine kinase, both are sources of energy for the body. (27)

There appears to be a good relationship between lower rates of depression and anxiety when the individual has adequate magnesium in their system. (28,29,30)

After supplementation in one study, females reported reduced symptoms of PMS. (31)

Tae-Kwan-Do and Triathletes showed greater glucose levels during exercise. Which means an athlete could have a larger store of energy during training and events. (32,33)

Magnesium helps regulate muscle contraction. (34)

A deficiency can result in cramping and severe muscular pain during exercise. (35, 36)

Magnesium supplementation helps support thyroid hormones during exercise. (37, 38) Thyroid is the master regulator and excessive exercise can aggravate the thyroid and cause a cascade of issues in the body as mentioned earlier.

There is some evidence that suggest magnesium may help with sleep. (41, 42, 43) As we know quality sleep is the single most important factor for an athlete's recovery. I know in my practices I have had individuals report better sleep after supplementing with magnesium.  

Unlike vitamin D and magnesium, calcium is often easier to achieve from diet. If you do a test like the one Allison has done and it comes up, I will recommend you take 2 servings of 500mg a day away from magnesium. Calcium is important for muscle contractions and bone health. If taken in excess it can reduce the absorption of other minerals as well as or interfere with the ability of the bones being able to store calcium. (39, 44) So make sure you retest if you start eating more calcium rich foods in your diet like dark leafy greens.

There are other considerations to look at for preventative maintenance. Iron for one, Fish Oil, then testing Adrenal and Thyroid gland function. But we can talk about that another day.

If you want more information, feel free to send to me a message.

My last point is to buy quality. Supplements are an unregulated industry and as a result you get what you pay for. Check out Labdoor for some suggestions.

Get stocked up and kick some ass this season!

1 Minasyan A, et al. Vestibular dysfunction in vitamin D receptor mutant mice. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. (2009)
2 Kalueff AV, et al. Impaired motor performance in mice lacking neurosteroid vitamin D receptors. Brain Res Bull. (2004)
3 Endo I, et al. Deletion of vitamin D receptor gene in mice results in abnormal skeletal muscle development with deregulated expression of myoregulatory transcription factors. Endocrinology. (2003)
4 Carrillo AE, et al. Impact of vitamin D supplementation during a resistance training intervention on body composition, muscle function, and glucose tolerance in overweight and obese adults. Clin Nutr. (2012)
5 Yanase T1, et al. Aromatase in bone: roles of Vitamin D3 and androgens.J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. (2003)
6 Prieto-Alhambra D, et al. Vitamin D threshold to prevent aromatase inhibitor-induced arthralgia: a prospective cohort study. Breast Cancer Res Treat. (2011)
7 Rastelli AL, et al. Vitamin D and aromatase inhibitor-induced musculoskeletal symptoms (AIMSS): a phase II, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Breast Cancer Res Treat. (2011)
8 Bech P, Hey H.Depression or asthenia related to metabolic disturbances in obese patients after intestinal bypass surgery.Acta Psychiatr Scand. (1979)
9 Högberg G, et al. Depressed adolescents in a case-series were low in vitamin D and depression was ameliorated by vitamin D supplementation. Acta Paediatr. (2012)
10 Sepehrmanesh Z, et al. Vitamin D Supplementation Affects the Beck Depression Inventory, Insulin Resistance, and Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial. J Nutr. (2016)
11 Gominak SC, Stumpf WE. The world epidemic of sleep disorders is linked to vitamin D deficiency. Med Hypotheses. (2012)
12 Bonnet MH, Arand DL. We are chronically sleep deprived. Sleep. (1995)
13 Van Cauter E, et al. Metabolic consequences of sleep and sleep loss. Sleep Med. (2008)
14 Galan F, et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in early autumn to ensure vitamin D sufficiency in mid-winter in professional football players. Clin Nutr. (2012)
15 Shindle MK, et al. Vitamin D Status in a Professional American Football Team: 2008: Board #203 June 2 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2011)
16 Halliday TM, et al. Vitamin D status relative to diet, lifestyle, injury, and illness in college athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2011)
17 Burgi AA, et al. High serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D is associated with a low incidence of stress fractures. J Bone Miner Res. (2011)
18 Wehr E, et al. Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). (2010)
19 Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Orav EJ, Dawson-Hughes B. Additive benefit of higher testosterone levels and vitamin D plus calcium supplementation in regard to fall risk reduction among older men and women. Osteoporos Int. (2008)
20 Pilz S, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res. (2011)
21 Choi CJ, et al. Relationship Between Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Lung Function Among Korean Adults in Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES), 2008-2010.J Clin Endocrinol Metab. (2013)
22 Urashima M, et al. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. (2010)
23 Lange NE1, et al. Vitamin D deficiency, smoking, and lung function in the Normative Aging Study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. (2012)
24 Camargo CA Jr1, et al. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation and risk of acute respiratory infection in Mongolia. Pediatrics. (2012)
25 Bischoff HA, et al. Muscle strength in the elderly: its relation to vitamin D metabolites. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. (1999)
26 Heaney RP, et al. Calcium absorption varies within the reference range for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D.J Am Coll Nutr. (2003)
27 Garfinkel L, Garfinkel D. Magnesium regulation of the glycolytic pathway and the enzymes involved. Magnesium. (1985)
28 Barra A, et al. Plasma magnesium level and psychomotor retardation in major depressed patients. Magnes Res. (2007)
29 Levine J, et al. High serum and cerebrospinal fluid Ca/Mg ratio in recently hospitalized acutely depressed patients. Neuropsychobiology. (1999)
30 Spasov AA, et al. Depression-like and anxiety-related behaviour of rats fed with magnesium-deficient diet. Zh Vyssh Nerv Deiat Im I P Pavlova. (2008)
31 Quaranta S, et al.Pilot study of the efficacy and safety of a modified-release magnesium 250 mg tablet (Sincromag) for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome.Clin Drug Investig. (2007)
32 Cinar V, et al. The effect of magnesium supplementation on glucose and insulin levels of tae-kwan-do sportsmen and sedentary subjects. Pak J Pharm Sci. (2008)
33 Golf SW, Bender S, Grüttner J. On the significance of magnesium in extreme physical stress. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. (1998)
34 Stephenson EW, Podolsky RJ. Regulation by magnesium of intracellular calcium movement in skinned muscle fibers. J Gen Physiol. (1977)
35 Triger DR, Joekes AM. Severe muscle cramp due to acute hypomagnesaemia in haemodialysis. Br Med J. (1969)
36 Bilbey DL, Prabhakaran VM. Muscle cramps and magnesium deficiency: case reports. Can Fam Physician. (1996)
37 Cinar V. The effects of magnesium supplementation on thyroid hormones of sedentars and Tae-Kwon-Do sportsperson at resting and exhaustion. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. (2007)
38 Cinar V, et al. Adrenocorticotropic hormone and cortisol levels in athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and exhaustion: effects of magnesium supplementation. Biol Trace Elem Res. (2008)
39 Straub DA. Calcium supplementation in clinical practice: a review of forms, doses, and indications.Nutr Clin Pract. (2007)
40 Grant WB, Garland CF, Gorham ED. An estimate of cancer mortality rate reductions in Europe and the US with 1,000 IU of oral vitamin D per day. Recent Results Cancer Res. (2007)
41 Sato-Mito N, et al. The midpoint of sleep is associated with dietary intake and dietary behavior among young Japanese women. Sleep Med. (2011)
42 Held K, et al. Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans. Pharmacopsychiatry. (2002)
43 Dietary Reference Intakes: Applications in Dietary Assessment.
44 Grimm M, et al. High phosphorus intake only slightly affects serum minerals, urinary pyridinium crosslinks and renal function in young women.Eur J Clin Nutr. (2001)

Get In Touch

Questions? Comments? Call today at 403-703-7610 or fill out the form below:

Have Questions? Call Me Today At