The B-vitamins (thiamin, ribofavin, vitamin B-6) are necessary in the energy-producing pathways of the body, while folate and vitamin B-12 are required for the synthesis of new cells, such as the red blood cells, and for the repair of damaged cells. Active individuals with poor or marginal nutritional status for a B-vitamin may have decreased ability to perform exercise at high intensities. This review focuses on the B-vitamins and their role in energy metabolism and cell regeneration. For each vitamin, function related to physical activity, requirement, and status measures are given. Research examining dietary intakes and nutritional status in active individuals is also presented. Current research suggests that exercise may increase the requirements for ribofavin and vitamin B-6, while data for folate and vitamin B-12 are limited. Athletes who have poor diets, especially those restricting energy intakes or eliminating food groups from the diet, should consider supplementing with a multivitamin/mineral supplement.
Kathleen Woolf and Melinda M. Manore
Colleen McConnell, Alyssa McPherson, and Kathleen Woolf
Marching artists are a unique group of athletes whose performance can be influenced by nutrition. Because physical demands are thought to be moderate to high, adequate energy and a variety of nutrient-dense foods are needed. The purpose of this study was to examine diet quality, physical activity, and eating behavior of marching artists across elite and nonelite competition levels. This cross-sectional analysis used the validated National Cancer Institute Diet History Questionnaire II, International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and Eating Behavior Patterns Questionnaire. Diet quality was assessed using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) 2010. Marching artists who participated in marching band in 2015 were eligible. Those in Drum Corps International (DCI) were considered part of the elite level; all others were considered nonelite. Chi-square analyses assessed associations between categorical variables and competition level, and independent sample t-tests assessed differences between continuous variables among competition level. Participants (n = 323) included 228 (71%) DCI members and 95 (29%) non-DCI members who reported a mean age of 19.8 ± 1.9 years. DCI members reported higher physical activity levels (p < 0.001) and fewer meal-skipping behaviors compared to non-DCI members (p < 0.001). The overall mean HEI score was 58.8 ± 10.3, with no difference between competition levels. Only one participant overall (<1%) met the recommended intake level of whole grains. Additionally, 2% of participants met the sodium restriction recommendation and 7% met the empty calorie upper limit. Suboptimal diet quality combined with high levels of physical activity is a problem for marching artists that should be addressed through carefully planned interventions.
D. Enette Larson-Meyer, Kathleen Woolf, and Louise Burke
Nutrition assessment is a necessary first step in advising athletes on dietary strategies that include dietary supplementation, and in evaluating the effectiveness of supplementation regimens. Although dietary assessment is the cornerstone component of the nutrition assessment process, it should be performed within the context of a complete assessment that includes collection/evaluation of anthropometric, biochemical, clinical, and environmental data. Collection of dietary intake data can be challenging, with the potential for significant error of validity and reliability, which include inherent errors of the collection methodology, coding of data by dietitians, estimation of nutrient composition using nutrient food tables and/or dietary software programs, and expression of data relative to reference standards including eating guidance systems, macronutrient guidelines for athletes, and recommended dietary allowances. Limitations in methodologies used to complete anthropometric assessment and biochemical analysis also exist, as reference norms for the athlete are not well established and practical and reliable biomarkers are not available for all nutrients. A clinical assessment collected from history information and the nutrition-focused physical exam may help identify overt nutrient deficiencies but may be unremarkable in the well-trained athlete. Assessment of potential food-drug interactions and environmental components further helps make appropriate dietary and supplement recommendations. Overall, the assessment process can help the athlete understand that supplement intake cannot make up for poor food choices and an inadequate diet, while a healthy diet helps ensure maximal benefit from supplementation. Establishment of reference norms specifically for well-trained athletes for the nutrition assessment process is a future research priority.
Kathleen Woolf, Wendy K. Bidwell, and Amanda G. Carlson
The study examined caffeine (5 mg/kg body weight) vs. placebo during anaerobic exercise. Eighteen male athletes (24.1 ± 5.8 yr; BMI 26.4 ± 2.2 kg/m2) completed a leg press, chest press, and Wingate test. During the caffeine trial, more total weight was lifted with the chest press, and a greater peak power was obtained during the Wingate test. No differences were observed between treatments for the leg press and average power, minimum power, and power drop (Wingate test). There was a significant treatment main effect found for postexercise glucose and insulin concentrations; higher concentrations were found in the caffeine trial. A significant interaction effect (treatment and time) was found for cortisol and glucose concentrations; both increased with caffeine and decreased with placebo. Postexercise systolic blood pressure was significantly higher during the caffeine trial. No differences were found between treatments for serum free-fatty-acid concentrations, plasma lactate concentrations, serum cortisol concentrations, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion. Thus, a moderate dose of caffeine resulted in more total weight lifted for the chest press and a greater peak power attained during the Wingate test in competitive athletes.
Kathleen Woolf, Megan M. St. Thomas, Nicole Hahn, Linda A. Vaughan, Amanda G. Carlson, and Pamela Hinton
This study examined iron status and nutrient intake in highly active (n = 28; 20 ± 2 yr, ≥12 hr purposeful physical activity per week [PPA/wk]) and sedentary (n = 28; 24 ± 3 yr, ≤2 hr PPA/wk) women. Participants completed a 7-day weighed-food record (energy, protein, fiber, alcohol, and micronutrients), 7-day pedometer/activity log, and fasting blood draw (hemoglobin, hematocrit, red blood cell indices, C-reactive protein, serum iron, percent transferrin saturation, total iron-binding capacity, ferritin, transferrin receptor [sTfR], and sTfR index). Independent-sample t tests and the Mann–Whitney nonparametric test compared mean values between groups. Lower serum ferritin (p = .01) and mean cell hemoglobin (p < .01) concentrations were found in active than in sedentary women. Higher mean sTfR (p = .01) and sTfR index (p < .01) values were found in the active women. No significant differences were found between groups for the other blood markers. Serum ferritin concentrations (storage iron) indicated iron depletion (Stage I) in 21% of active and 18% of sedentary participants. Nonetheless, 50% of active and 18% of sedentary participants were iron depleted as evidenced by the sTfR index (ratio of functional-to-storage iron). Elevated sTfR concentrations (functional iron) were observed in 25% of active and 3% of sedentary participants. Although the active women reported greater iron (p < .01) but similar heme iron intakes, they had higher mean sTfR, higher sTfR index, and lower serum ferritin concentrations than the sedentary women. Assessment of iron status may require measures not commonly used in routine assessments.