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Are certain nutrients depleted with strenuous exercise?

Answer by:
David Kiefer, MD

Family Medicine, WebMD Medical Expert
University of Arizona, Tucson

Exercise uses fuel. The body's fuel is glucose, which come from carbohydrates. That's the reason long-distance runners typically carbo-load before an event. And after a long run, they usually need to refuel by consuming high-carb foods, such as bagels, bananas, or fruit juice.

Strenuous exercise depletes fluids, as well, especially in hot weather. As for single nutrients, stores of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and some B vitamins may also be reduced after strenuous exercise. Premenopausal female athletes may run a risk of iron deficiency. Some sports medicine experts think that antioxidants may help athletes recover after a strenuous workout, by neutralizing free radicals generated by exercise. That hasn't been proven, however. And no single antioxidant stands out as particularly important. Although vitamin/mineral formulas are marketed to athletes, all of the nutrients that help power athletic performance can be found in a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.

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