Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Athletic Performance

Published on 1 August 2018
by Lait au chocolat

While vitamins and minerals do not, in essence, supply energy, they do play a role in helping to release energy and supplying the body with oxygen. Here is more information on the crucial role they play with regard to physical activity.

Many electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, and chloride, are eliminated through your sweat when you get moving. When you are physically active for more than an hour, sports drinks containing water, sugar, and electrolytes are generally sufficient to replenish you. However, if you are an athlete who sweats a lot, it may be a good idea to increase your salt intake at mealtimes following physical exertion.


Iron deficiency can lead to anemia. This condition can limit athletic performance, as it decreases hemoglobin, which affects the delivery of oxygen to the cells. Endurance athletes who train intensively without breaks, women (because of menstruation), and vegetarians who do not get enough iron from their diet are at a higher risk of developing the condition.

Iron-rich foods:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Beans
  • Grains


Foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D have health benefits for the body. They favour the growth of bones and teeth, regulate blood pressure and heart rate, and help muscles contract and relax. Physical activity also enhances the beneficial effects of these nutrients.

Calcium-rich foods :

  • Dairy products
  • Canned salmon and sardines (with bones)
  • Some leafy greens (spinach, kale, broccoli, rhubarb)
  • Beans
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Blackstrap molasses


Sodium helps in the absorption of sugar and amino acids (that form protein) in the intestines and cells. It also helps to maintain the balance of fluids in the body. Although sodium is necessary to everyone at all times, athletes must be particularly careful to replenish any losses through sweating.

Sodium-rich foods:

  • Tomato or vegetable juices
  • Cheese
  • Salted nuts
  • Crackers
  • Foods in brine: pickles, olives, sauerkraut


Potassium helps to maintain the body’s acid-base balance, potentiates insulin action at the cellular level, and helps to maintain normal kidney function. Along with chloride, it works to ensure the proper allocation of fluids in the body. Finally, sodium and potassium affect the functioning of the nervous and muscular systems, which are essential in the formation and transmission of impulses through the nervous system and muscle tissue.


Potassium-rich foods:

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Dairy products (except for butter)
  • Meat and meat alternatives
  • Wheat bran
  • Blackstrap molasses

Link to the article (french only)
Lait au chocolat