Vitamins Linked To Fitness Levels In Teenagers

During our teenage years our metabolism is usually very high. Having a high metabolism should, in theory, make it easier to stay relatively physically fit. But this isn’t always the case, and some children entering adolescence often have a level of physical fitness far below some of their peers. Now some new research suggests why that might be.

The research, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, found that adolescents’ blood levels of various micronutrients are directly related to their performance in physical fitness tests. And although the results don’t suggest any new causes, they do reveal an important relationship between two different measures of adolescent health.

For many people, adolescence is the time that people begin to pick up healthy habits such as eating foods that are high in vitamins and minerals, and choosing a regular exercise routine. Recent studies have confirmed that performance in physical fitness tests is getting worse at the same time that intake of important nutrients has decreased.

The researchers have suggested that these findings could be related, as they both agree that physical fitness and nutrition are intertwined. It is well known, for example, that vitamin C helps rebuild the damage to muscles after a workout. Therefore low levels of vitamin C could result in the process taking longer.

The study used thousands of volunteers across Europe, aged between 12.5 and 17.5. It looked at a huge variety of micronutrients. The volunteers then performed a standing jump to test lower-body muscular strength, and a 20 metre shuttle run test to test cardiovascular fitness.

The results showed that good levels of nutrients were important for performance in either test. Specifically in the muscular strength test, vitamin C and retinol were important for males, while vitamin D and beta-carotene were important for females. In the cardiovascular test, beta-carotene and haemoglobin were important for males, while vitamin D and beta-carotene were again the important factors for females.

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