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“Athletes can eat anything”

August 15, 2009

This is unfortunately a common misconptection. On the contrary, athletes (incl people taking part in halfmarathons, ski and bike races etc.) are a risk group for nutritional deficiencies together with: persons who avoid fresh fruit and greens; teenagers; persons on long term medication; older people; pregnant and breast feeding women; smokers; drinkers; persons with bowel and colon illnesses; persons with liver and kidney illnesses.

Swedish nutritional researcher Med. Dr. Magnus Nylander has studied athletes among other groups and has come to the conclusion that hard training above all increase the need of several water soluble vitamins and a fat soluble vitamin: Vitamin-E. Many athletes had difficulties transform some vitamins into physiological active forms in the body, and very much so with pyridoxine or Vitamin B6.

Lately Dr. Magnus Nylander, who’s working on a book about his studies and experiments about nutrition since 20 years, has shown surprisingly many vitamin deficiencies in active endurance sports athletes. In many cases it wasn’t enough with dietary changes, only with nutritional supplements (incl. several Vitamin-B’s) it was possible to turn the levels straight.

3/4 danish elite cyclists were pyridoxine deficient. 10% had severe deciciencies. By the way, pyridoxine is needed for all kinds of protein build-up and for a good immune protection among other things. In a similar study of pyridoxine enzyme activity 12/20 nordic elite skiers had different levels of deficiencies, and 25% of these had severe deficiencies.

Studies have shown that Vitamin-E is important for the immune defense system as an important antioxidant. Athletes need a strong antioxidant defense since their oxygen consumption is bigger. Nylander has also discovered iron deficiency among women (30% of all Swedish women and 40% of teenage girls) and athletes, and low levels omega-3. Both in USA and Scandinavia we need to correct our omega fat acid balances. We eat 15-20 times more omega-6 than omega-3, while it should be more like 4 times more.

Common causes for nutritional deficiencies:
– A biased diet with little fresh fruit, greens and vegetables.
– Difficult to change eating habits.
– The food lack micro nutrients through processing, storage and cooking.
– Increased needs (stress, pollution, smoking etc)
– RDI-levels indicates “lowest possible level for avoiding disease”, instead of “good level for optimal health”.

Source: Riktigt näringsintag med fytonutrienter – En förutsättning för bästa hälsa. Av Magnus Nylander. 2007. I will keep you updated when his book arrives.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 15, 2009 10:41

    It too bad that this misconception does exist. Many persons think that they have to fill up on carbs and proteins, but not of such in a high quality. On training forums online for ex I have seen many persons ask for what they should eat after work out, and they often get a reply like “anything that has carbs, chocolate milk (O’Boy) and no grain sandwhich with cheese will be fine”.

    Makes me totally sad.

    • fredrikolmqvist permalink*
      August 15, 2009 23:06

      I think Swedes in general are quite self-sufficient, we have a tendendcy to overestimate ourselves, our beliefs and values. Take students for example, who read a lot but don”t care if they eat cheap noodles that have been pre-fried in hydrogenated oils, or eat pasta with fried “falukorv” and ketchup. They might be concerned about their future economy, but not the least about their future health. Or all those teenage girls who experiment with not eating properly. It’s scary.

  2. September 14, 2009 0:28

    Great article,right on point

    • fredrikolmqvist permalink*
      September 14, 2009 7:30

      Considering most athletes actually have different nutritional deficiencies, there must be a case of a great misconception that food quality doesn’t matter, just because we burn lots of calories.

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