“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” This is the title of a bestseller by John Gray. This great book shows how different men and women are. Not only is this true in relationships between men and women, it is also true in sports nutrition. Women differ greatly from men in what they need in nutrition compared to men. Although the basic principles are the same women who are involved in regular sports activities do have an increased need for certain nutrients.
The most important nutrition’s women needs are calcium and iron. These are very important for women’s body to perform properly.
Let’s start with the first. Calcium is a very important mineral for a woman’s body. It plays an essential role in growth. In sports, muscle and mind coordination is important where the mineral also plays an important role. It also plays a key role in muscle contraction and transmission of nerve impulses. For women calcium is very important in the development and maintenance of strong bones.
The need for calcium starts during childhood and adolescence is important for developing an optimal peak in bone mass by your mid twenty’s to your early thirty’s. In later life this will then help reduce the risk of acquiring osteoporosis or the thinning of your bones. This is something that older women are at risk of. When women are involved in sports the need for calcium must be complemented. The normal daily intake will not be sufficient therefore needs to be added with extra oral intake.
The normal calcium intake depends on age and if the woman has her menstrual period. For women who practice sports there is a need for an additional intake. Girls with ages twelve to fifteen must have at least one thousand milligrams of calcium per day. For teenagers with ages sixteen to eighteen, on the other hand, should have a normal calcium intake per day, which is eight hundred milligrams. For women who are having their menstrual periods, they should also take eight hundred milligrams of calcium a day.
Post menopausal women should have at least one thousand milligrams per day of calcium, while women who are pregnant and who are also breastfeeding should have one thousand two hundred milligrams per day.
And, not the least, sportswomen who have an absent or an irregular menstrual cycle, they should have at least one thousand to one thousand five hundred milligrams in a day. It is detrimental for women to meet their required calcium intake for normal functioning.
The second important mineral is iron. Iron is used in the forming of haemoglobin, which is essential in holding the oxygen in the blood as they are being transported to various parts of the body. It is also an essential nutrient for energy production and immunity.
Sports nutrition for women requires iron in big amounts. The reason is that women are at a bigger risk because they continually lose blood as they undergo the cyclical process of menstruation. Plus, strenuous exercises contribute to the loss of iron through the destruction of red blood cells. Inadequate iron intake is associated with reduced athletic performance.
Women in particular are very aware of the level of body fat. The aim for many women and athletes is to keep the body fat to a minimum. Excess fat is excess baggage and can compromise the performance. However, this needs to be addressed very carefully. Less fat or no fat at all compromises the energy level of a female athlete therefore compromises the performance.
When you want to take your athletic performances to the next level as a woman you need to be aware of your specific nutritional needs. The mineral calcium and iron are very important for a woman’s body. When participating in regular strenuous exercise the woman’s body will need extra minerals. The daily intake may not be sufficient and can therefore be supplemented. As always it’s best to consult a sport physician for more detailed information. Your needs may differ from other woman as people are different and types of sports can differ.