It’s the little things that count…..
We are all constantly bombarded with information about protein,
carbohydrate and fat – otherwise known as macro nutrition – This is the big
What you rarely see is good information about the little stuff – micro nutrition.
What is Micro Nutrition…?
A micro nutrient is defined as ‘a chemical element or substance required
in trace amounts for the normal growth and development of living organisms’
Whilst we look at daily protein, carbohydrate and fat intakes in the hundreds
of grams, micro nutrients are needed in milligrams or micrograms.
Micro nutrition encompasses Vitamins and Minerals
What do Micro Nutrients do…?
The spectrum of vitamins and minerals all have very important specific
roles in supporting a healthy body but crucially they also control all of the
metabolic processes in the body.
Without the correct amounts of the micro nutrients your body simply
cannot get the most from the macro nutrients you consume.
You may have the ideal macro nutrient regime, but without the right
balance of vitamins and minerals to support it, you are compromising your
body’s ability to maximise the value of the protein, carbohydrate and fat you
How best to manage Micro Nutrition…?
Managing your vitamin and mineral intake by monitoring what is contained
in the foods you eat is an almost impossible task unless it is your full time
Micro nutrition is an extremely complex area, but fortunately it can
have a simple solution.
Good quality vitamin and mineral supplements can ensure that you have
enough of these essential elements.
If you choose to, you can enter the minefield of supplementing with
individual vitamins and minerals but I don’t recommend it. The simple way is to
find a really good quality, well balanced all-rounder. A multi vitamin and
As an athlete or keen sportsperson you subject your body to the stress
of training which has the effect of lowering your immune defences. This means
that the blend of vitamins and minerals needs to be slightly different for you.
We have some nutritional support from CNP Professional on this year’s event so I have looked at their Health and Immune product. This
provides a good balance of high quality elements specifically dosed to bolster
immune function in addition to maintaining a normal healthy body when used in
conjunction with a well-balanced diet.
The ‘complex’ world of the very important B’s…
When vitamin B was discovered it was thought to be a single substance
like Vitamin A, but it was subsequently found to contain two separate elements
which were imaginatively called B1 and B2. B1 refers to Thiamine and B2 to Riboflavin.
Continued research then showed that B2, Riboflavin, could be broken down
further and as different substances were found within they became known as the
B complex group.
B complex vitamins are right up there in the importance scale for
sportspeople because they act as coenzymes to convert carbohydrates into
glucose needed as energy
to break down protein and fat into useable food.
B complex vitamins are also one of the most important factors in
maintaining a healthy nervous system, with the need for them increasing under
physical and/or mental stress – just the sort of conditions you find in
preparation for and during an event like the Etape Royale.
Most B vitamins are found together in the same foods, so a deficiency in
one usually denotes a deficiency in several. It is useful to think of B complex
vitamins as a team that must be kept together to achieve the desired result. So
as an example; if an additional dosage of vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine - which is the
most important in respect of protein absorption) is required, it should be
taken along with all the others.
B vitamins are water soluble and only a very small amount can be stored
in the body, so they must be included in your intake every day.
Well, from what you have just read it might seem that if you are taking
a high quality vitamin and mineral supplement then it is job done – but not so
There are a couple of additional key points to be aware of.
Some micro nutrients are water soluble; they need water to dissolve into
a form that can be used by your body. If you are poorly hydrated you will not
be able to effectively use them. We hear
a lot about drinking the right amount of water every day and this is one of the
The other micro nutrients are fat soluble; they need fat or oil in which
to dissolve into a useable form. If you are not getting enough healthy fat in
your diet your body will be missing out on these essential nutritional elements.
Ben Allum – Forensic Nutritionist
CORNERSTONE Tailored Performance