How to Boost Your Athletic Performance with Zinc Supplements
Zinc is a well-known wellness booster. This essential mineral is added to cold remedies because of its immune system-enhancing properties, but is that all zinc is good for? Whether you take your zinc in supplement form, or source it from foods, zinc can be a powerful tool for athletes looking to improve their performance.
According to a study, carried out in 2011, if you take zinc following exercise it does wonders for your hormonal wellbeing. Participants of the study who took a zinc supplement had higher serum testosterone levels following exercise – which is critical for muscle growth and recovery – than those who didn’t. Another study, this time conducted in Turkey in 2006, found that wrestlers who took daily doses of 3 mg zinc sulfate per kilogram of body weight increased the free testosterone levels in their blood by an average of 40% after just four weeks.
Yet there are more benefits to zinc supplementation than just testosterone. The immune system boosting, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of zinc can benefit hard-training athletes too. According to research published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, during the ageing process, there is a link between the dysfunction of the immune system and chronic inflammation and age-related zinc deficiency. Regardless of age, however, symptoms like this can occur in athletes, because you put a lot of strain on your body which leads to a zinc deficiency.
However, before you self diagnose and start supplementing at will, it’s important to get tested. If your blood serum levels of zinc is outside of the optimal range (10.7 – 22.9µmol/L) then zinc supplementation is advisable. You can get a general sense of your levels at home by diluting a small amount of zinc sulphate in water, drinking a tablespoon of it and holding it in your mouth for 10 seconds. If all you can taste is water, then you may have a deficiency as most people should experience an immediate “metallic” taste sensation.
Before you resort to zinc supplementation, first ensure that you’re getting all the zinc you can from your diet, as overdoing it on this mineral can lead to zinc toxicity, which has bad side effects. You can get zinc from oysters, dark chocolate, wheat germ, beef and peanuts. If that fails, consult your doctor about zinc supplementation, and the appropriate dose for you.
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