Minerals are among the founding components of life. Don't forget to get your fill. Photo: Rocks and minerals

Minerals are fundamental to life. Don’t forget to get your fill. Photo: Rocks and minerals

Paddle Healthy | Top Four Can't Miss Minerals

When it comes to minerals, what's top of mind is usually questions about macro nutrients: Am I eating too many carbs? How much fat is in this burrito? Am I getting enough protein? While we certainly need to take care of the Big Three, it shouldn't be at the expense of micro nutrients. Most of us are paying more attention to vitamins these days, but minerals usually get lost in the shuffle. In this Paddle Healthy piece, we'll look at four minerals you need to start paying attention to:

1)     Magnesium

Magnesium is the Mac Daddy of minerals. It contributes to more than 300 body processes, and without enough you increase the risk of migraines, diabetes and even cardiovascular disease. Magnesium is also crucial if you want to get a good night's sleep and combat stress. That's why in addition to getting plenty of magnesium rich foods like nuts, seeds and legumes, you should consider taking the supplement ZMA. This blend of magnesium, zinc and vitamin B6 has been shown to improve restfulness and aid exercise recovery.

2)     Zinc

For the longest time, the medical community has been pushing vitamin C to ward off and shorten colds. But it turns out that it's another component of many C-rich foods such as grapefruit and oranges that has disease-fighting power: zinc. This mighty mineral also boosts testosterone production after exercise, stimulating muscle growth and recovery. Plus, getting enough zinc can help boost cognition and mental focus, as it helps regulate the neurotransmitter dopamine. In addition to loading up on citrus fruits, get your zinc fix from beef, mushrooms and dark chocolate (like we need an excuse!)

3)     Sodium

Traditionally sodium has gotten a bad rap. Headlines like "Sodium causes high blood pressure!" were plastered on magazine and newspaper covers for years, but recently sports nutritionists have started acknowledging that most athletes aren't getting too much sodium. In fact, we're not consuming enough or at the right times. When you sweat, you excrete all manner of electrolytes, and the one that has the greatest impact on hydration, and therefore performance, is sodium. That's why it's vital to consume replenish sodium when we paddle or work out, and once we get off the water. If you can't afford a sport nutrition drink, simply put a pinch of iodized sea salt into every 12 ounces of water. Leading performance experts like Dr. Stacy Sims recommend also doing this throughout the day to ensure your body is uptaking water optimally.

4)     Calcium

Calcium isn't just for growing kids. It's the main mineral involved in muscle contraction, and is essential in preserving bone density as we age. When we push it on our boards and in the gym, we're encouraging our bodies to build up our bones, and this can't happen without more calcium. Physical activity also inflicts structural stress, and once again calcium is called into action to aid repair. So make sure you're getting enough dairy, and if you're allergic or exclude it, load up on dark leafy greens, sardines and salmon, figs and tofu.

Want more dietary advice? Check out these pre- and post-paddle nutrition tips.