Get in Zinc
If you're fit and active but lag during exercise or feel stiff afterward, you might be low on zinc: New research suggests that zinc, a mineral known to support the immune system and regulate cell activity, may also help fuel us during workouts.
Henry Lukaski, Ph.D., assistant director of the USDA's Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota, has just completed an animal study exploring the link between zinc intake and exercise stamina; he also published a human trial on the same topic in the May 2005 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Lukaski's findings show that low zinc intake (less than five milligrams a day, well below the recommended daily allowance of 11 mg) appears to affect the endurance of otherwise physically fit individuals. Zinc helps the body get rid of carbon dioxide and lactic acid, which can build up during a workout and cause muscle stiffness, Lukaski explains.
Since oysters, red meat, and poultry are the best dietary sources of zinc, physically active vegetarians and vegans should increase their intake of fortified cereal or granola, nuts, legumes, or wheat germ, all of which are rich in zinc.