Most modern athletes find that vitamin and mineral supplementation has become almost necessary to maintain a certain level of physical exertion without wearing the body out. The amount of nutritional value in foods bought from supermarkets has shown to declining in recent years, prompting many to instead turn to synthesized supplementation in order to give the body everything it needs.
And the same can be said for athletes that suffer from disabilities, although research into this field has been less than a priority. That changed with a study lead by researchers at the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University, who assessed the nutrient uptake and supplementation used among high performance athletes that had physical disabilities.
What the researchers observed at first was that professional, disabled athletes suffer from several deficiencies, as well as irregular use of certain supplements. Most athletes tend to take a lot of protein powder, along with energy drinks and bars, and had sufficient vitamin D, but many failed to meet the recommended dietary allowance. Some of the deficiencies included magnesium, panthothenic acid, Vitamin E, and potassium.
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Recommendations for Athletes
The first problem that researchers ran into was the fact that every athlete requires different intakes of nutrients, and it can heavily depend on the type of disability that the athlete is suffering from. Those that have lost a leg, for example, will need more nutrients than those that have lost both of their legs. They noted that carbohydrate intake for disabled athletes tends to be quite high as energy tends to be used more to compensate for missing appendages. They also found that there was a tendency to consume higher than recommended amounts of processed sugars, such as would be found in fruit juice, but rates of fibre consumption were below the recommended amounts. They stated that athletes needed to start bringing more fibre into their diets per day.
They also found that calcium, iron, and Vitamin D were insufficient in many athletes, and that there needed to be higher emphasis on supplementing to compensate for the lack, especially when it comes to the high energy consumption associated with sports.
Researchers did find some key differences in the intakes and deficiencies found between male and female athletes. ON average, male athletes on average consumed much of their protein from sources like protein powder and bars, around 39% in total, while sports drinks came close behind at 33.3%. Female athletes, however, took Vitamin D supplementation at around 40%, as well as protein powder and fatty acids. They found that female athletes were most likely to be deficient in iron and calcium, while male athletes needed to take more folate and vitamin A.
Many of the athletes, when questioned, believed that their diets weren’t healthy enough. Around 61% of males, and 73% of females believed that their diets were average, and that supplementation was an important route to take.