Nutri­tion

How to get more omega-3 fatty acids, mag­ne­sium, potas­sium and choline in your diet

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Matthew Kadey

4 nu­tri­ents cy­clists need more of

While most cy­clists pay at­ten­tion to watts, heart rate, mileage and other train­ing met­rics, they of­ten for­get about keep­ing tabs on their nu­tri­ent in­take. In do­ing so, it can be easy to let cer­tain vi­tal nu­tri­ents fall through the cracks un­know­ingly and, in turn, risk jeop­ar­diz­ing health and fit­ness gains. If your body is a ma­chine, think of cer­tain nu­tri­ents as the gears that let it run smoothly. Here are a quar­tet of chron­i­cally un­der-con­sumed nu­tri­ents, plus ways to get them through real food sources (prefer­ably) rather than pills and po­tions.

EPA and DHA

The duo of epa (eicos­apen­taenoic acid) and dha (do­cosa­hex­aenoic acid) are two long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that have proven them­selves to be al­lies in the fight against var­i­ous health con­cerns, in­clud­ing heart disease. A re­cent meta-anal­y­sis of pre­vi­ous re­search pub­lished in Crit­i­cal Re­views in food science and nutri­tion with a sam­ple size of 292,657 con­cluded that there is a link be­tween omega-3 fat in­take and bone strength. The mega-healthy fats have also been shown to help al­le­vi­ate mus­cle pain as­so­ci­ated with hard work­outs. Both epa and dha work their way into cell mem­branes al­low­ing them to have such widerang­ing ben­e­fits. But few, and we re­ally mean few, peo­ple are heed­ing the ad­vice of health ex­perts to eat more of them. A re­cent study pub­lished in the jour­nal Nu­tri­ents de­ter­mined that about 98 per cent of peo­ple fall well be­low the op­ti­mum fig­ure of eight per cent on the Omega-3 In­dex – a test of omega-3 fatty acids lev­els in the blood. Eat more: The best way to get your fill of epa and dha is to reel in fatty fish for your meals at least twice per week. The main swim­mers that are es­pe­cially rich in omega-3s in­clude salmon, rain­bow trout, sar­dines, mack­erel, sable­fish (black cod), herring, Arc­tic char and some tuna. A shorter-chain form of omega-3 fatty acid, called al­phali­nolenic acid (ala), is found in cer­tain plant-based foods and some can be con­verted into epa and dha in the body. Sources of ala in­clude wal­nuts, hemp seeds, flax, chia and canola oil.

Mag­ne­sium

Con­sider mag­ne­sium the re­nais­sance man of min­er­als – it’s a vi­tal part of hun­dreds of im­por­tant en­zymes that play a role in ev­ery­thing from nerve to heart to bone to mus­cle func­tion­ing. So, if you come up short with mag­ne­sium, your body won’t per­form at its best. A study pub­lished in The jour­nal of the amer­i­can os­teo­pathic As­so­ci­a­tion found that vi­ta­min D is not prop­erly me­tab­o­lized in the body with­out suf­fi­cient mag­ne­sium lev­els. Owing to the min­eral’s role in en­ergy pro­duc­tion within our cells, low lev­els could con­trib­ute to feel­ing less than peppy on the sad­dle. The av­er­age per­son should con­sume be­tween 300 and 400 mg of mag­ne­sium a day. Sadly, di­etary sur­veys show that only about half of the pop­u­la­tion is reach­ing its daily quota. Eat more: Gen­er­ally, plant-based whole foods are your best way to load up on mag­ne­sium. These in­clude legumes such as beans, whole-grains such as quinoa and brown rice, nuts, seeds (es­pe­cially pump­kin seeds), pota­toes and dark greens (spinach and Swiss chard).

Potas­sium

Our bod­ies call upon potas­sium for a host of es­sen­tial func­tions in­clud­ing mus­cu­lar con­trac­tion, reg­u­la­tion of fluid bal­ance and lim­it­ing bone break­down. When you get enough potas­sium, it helps your body ex­crete sodium, which eases ten­sion in the blood-ves­sel walls to help lower blood-pres­sure num­bers. Just keep in mind that its role in mus­cle cramp­ing dur­ing work­outs has largely been overblown. While most peo­ple have no trou­ble eat­ing plenty of sodium, di­etary data sug­gests that a measly two per cent of the pop­u­la­tion meets its daily potas­sium rec­om­men­da­tion – 4,700 mg each day as sug­gested by the In­sti­tute of Medicine. Since it seeps out of your pores when you sweat, you’ll need to eat even more if you spend many hours sweat­ing buck­ets in the pain cave. Eat more: Though most of us as­so­ciate potas­sium with bananas, you should also drop other potas­sium-rich foods in your shop­ping cart – yo­gurt, dark leafy greens, white and sweet pota­toes, av­o­cado, win­ter squash, lentils, beans, dried fruits, can­taloupe, kiwi, mushrooms and even fish like salmon and hal­ibut.

Choline

Of this fab four of nu­tri­ents, choline is likely the least well­known. The vi­ta­min-like com­pound is the main build­ing block of acetyl­choline, a neu­ro­trans­mit­ter in­volved in brain func­tion­ing as well as mus­cu­lar move­ment. This largely un­sung nu­tri­ent also plays an im­por­tant role in our me­tab­o­lism and ner­vous sys­tem. The more you ex­er­cise, the more acetyl­choline is used up for the pur­pose of stim­u­lat­ing mus­cu­lar con­trac­tion, mak­ing it even more vi­tal to eat enough choline. Yet a re­port pub­lished in the Jour­nal of the amer­i­can col­lege of nutri­tion claims that about 90 per cent of Amer­i­cans aren’t meet­ing their rec­om­mended daily in­take of choline, 550 and 425 mg each day for men and women, re­spec­tively. Cana­di­ans likely aren’t fair­ing much bet­ter. Eat more: The best way to con­sume more choline is to crack open an egg – a sin­gle yolk has about 145 mg. Other di­etary sources in­clude liver, beef, fish, chicken, milk, brus­sels sprouts, broc­coli, shi­itake mushrooms, soy­beans and peanut but­ter. What bet­ter ex­cuse to eat more pb&j sand­wiches?

EPA and DHA

Mag­ne­sium

Choline

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.