Even marginal deficiencies in iron and zinc can result in reduced performance capacity and overall health and well being. A diet that’s low in iron will significantly hinder your energy levels due to associated reductions in oxygen delivery to muscles. Iron is the main component of haemoglobin, the main transporter of oxygen, and if oxygen delivery is compromised then this impacts on the conversion of metabolites to energy!
Zinc is a key player in a plethora of bodily functions including cell regulation, healthy immune response, and cell division (about as important as it gets, right?), and the breakdown of carbohydrates. There is a general rule of thumb with zinc, and that is if you’re getting enough protein in your diet the chances are you’re getting enough zinc. However zinc can be low in athletes who regularly resistance train and don’t consume enough protein, so care should be taken here in order to avoid deficiencies.
Note: If you supplement with iron be sure to keep your zinc levels up. Supplemented iron can interfere with the absorption of zinc and copper, as well as leading to constipation… not good at all!
Eberle, S, G. (2014). Endurance Sports Nutrition. Fuel your body for optimal performance. 3rd Ed. Runners Colitis. IL: Human Kinetics