As an endurance athlete, should you take a zinc supplement? Does endurance exercise deplete zinc levels? What are the benefits of zinc for endurance athletes? If you wonder about these questions, keep reading to learn all about zinc and its relationship to endurance sport.
What is Zinc?
Zinc is a nutrient, more specifically, a trace mineral found throughout the body. It plays a role in immunity, the creation of DNA, cell growth, protein building, and healing damaged tissue. Zinc is found in foods such as meats, poultry, seafood, legumes, and whole grains. For adults, the RDA for zinc is 11mg/day for men and 8mg/day for women. The tolerable upper intake level for zinc is 40mg daily for adults.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, likely, you are not getting enough dietary zinc. The body less easily absorbs the plant sources of zinc due to the phytates in most grains. Phytates can inhibit zinc absorption. Interestingly, it is estimated that about 12 percent of the United States is at risk for zinc deficiency.
How does Zinc Affect Endurance Athletes?
There is evidence to support the fact that high levels of exercise (i.e., endurance training) decrease resting zinc levels in both male and female athletes (Cordova & Alvarez-Mon, 1995). Furthermore, research has shown that runners have lower plasma zinc levels.
Maynar et al. (2018) found that zinc concentrations were significantly lower in athlete participants than in sedentary participants in pre-exercise and post-exercise tests. These researchers also found that a treadmill test until exhaustion led to decreased serum zinc levels and a higher excretion of urinary zinc.
It appears that the amount of zinc that is depleted increases as you sweat more during exercise. Scientists estimate that up to 90% of endurance athletes may not be getting enough zinc(Micheletti et al., 2012). When athletes do not get enough zinc, the results can be disastrous.
Zinc deficiency in athletes can result in significant loss of weight, fatigue, decreased endurance, and a risk of osteoporosis (Micheletti et al., 2012). Lukaski (2005) found that low zinc levels correlated with impaired cardiorespiratory function during exercise.
There has even been recent research indicating that even a minor zinc deficiency can cause DNA damage. Obviously, all of these side effects will have a negative impact on your performance as an endurance athlete.
Is all Zinc Created Equally?
As with most vitamins and minerals, specific types of zinc are absorbed more easily by our bodies. Research shows that zinc absorption can be improved when using zinc picolinate (Barrie et al., 1987).
Zinc picolinate is the zinc salt of picolinic acid and contains roughly 20% elemental zinc. It is the easiest form of zinc for our bodies to digest and absorb. Zinc sulfate is a cheaper form of zinc but is the least easily absorbed and has been known to cause stomach upset.
Zinc for Endurance Athletes – What Should I Take?
As you can now tell, the importance of zinc for endurance athletes cannot be understated! So, now you are probably wondering where you will turn to in the supplement world for zinc.
Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. We have included 6mg of zinc picolinate in Terminus, our recovery formula.
When you take Terminus after a workout, you don’t have to worry about whether you will be deficient in zinc or if the zinc you are taking is the right kind. Unlike many other supplement companies, we use zinc picolinate, not zinc sulfate.
Zinc is just one of the many beneficial recovery ingredients in Terminus. We always use the most bioavailable ingredients in our supplements. We don’t cut corners to save a buck.
For more information on the premium, unmatched ingredients, check out Terminus on our website.
**Use common sense, and always listen to your doctor over a blog post. They know more about your health situation than anybody behind a keyboard. If you have underlying medical conditions, always check with your doctor before starting a new supplementation routine.
Cordova, A., & Alvarez-Mon, M. (1995). Behaviour of zinc in physical exercise: A special reference to immunity and fatigue. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 19(3), 439-445. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/0149-7634(95)00002-V
Lukaski, H. C. (2005). Low dietary zinc decreases erythrocyte carbonic anhydrase activities and impairs cardiorespiratory function in men during exercise. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(5), 1045-1051. doi:10.1093/ajcn/81.5.1045
Maynar, M., Muñoz, D., Alves, J., Barrientos, G., Grijota, F. J., Robles, M. C., & Llerena, F. (2018). Influence of an acute exercise until exhaustion on serum and urinary concentrations of molybdenum, selenium, and zinc in athletes. Biological Trace Element Research, 186(2), 361-369. doi:10.1007/s12011-018-1327-9
Micheletti, A., Rossi, R., & Rufini, S. (2001). Zinc status in athletes. Sports Medicine, 31(8), 577-582. doi:10.2165/00007256-200131080-00002