Mineral elements, including magnesium, zinc, and copper, are required by the body in modest amounts for the maintenance of health and for the development of optimal physiological function. For athletes, adequate amounts of these minerals are required for physical training and performance. Studies of athletes during training, as compared to nontraining control subjects, indicate the potential for increased losses of minerals in sweat and urine. Some studies report suboptimal intakes of minerals, particularly among athletes who are actively attempting to lose weight to meet standards for competition. However, most athletes consume diets that provide adequate amounts of minerals to meet population standards. Athletes should be counseled to consume foods with high nutrient density rather than to rely on mineral supplements. General use of mineral supplements can alter physiological function and impair health.
Henry C. Lukaski is with the USDA Agriculture Research Service, Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Box 9034 University Station, Grand Forks, ND 58202-9034.