You don’t need an expert to tell you that those aches and pains you’re feeling can affect the way you live your life. Inflammation, lethargy, and general discomfort are often passed off as signs of aging, when in reality they may be indicating a gap in your nutrient intake.
There are the obvious factors that contribute to decreased inflammation and physical activity like maintaining a healthy weight. What you may not know is that nutrient status also plays an important role.
Having energy, strong bones and muscles, and reducing inflammation are keys to feeling your best. To maximize these areas, focus on your essential nutrients especially vitamin B12, magnesium, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and E.
4 Ways Nutrients Affect Physical Activity and Inflammation
- Main players: Vitamin B12, magnesium, and potassium
- Deficiencies lead to: Decreased athletic performance, lack of motivation, and feeling tired
Think of your body as a car and micronutrients as the gas for the engine. They fuel your body by breaking down food and helping convert it to energy.
A variety of vitamins and minerals are needed for energy metabolism.
Vitamin B12, magnesium, and potassium assists in converting food into energy, giving oxygen to your muscles, providing energy to drive many processes in living cells, and helps regulate energy levels.
When deficient in these nutrients, you may feel tired, worn out, and fatigued.1-6
- Main player: Omega-3 fatty acids
- Deficiencies lead to: Joint pain, decreased physical activity, and weight gain
Not only are nutrients your car’s gas, they’re also your oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid — all the fuel that prevents damage and discomfort.
Prolonged inflammation is associated with physiological stress on the body, altered glucose and lipid metabolism, and mental stress.4 Nutrient status plays a major role in all of these. Therefore, your nutrient status significantly contributes to your body’s inflammatory responses.
Numerous studies have also found benefits of omega-3 dietary supplementation for people with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and migraine headaches. There were significant correlations between decreased disease activity and a lowered use of anti-inflammatory drugs in those supplementing with fish oils.
Additionally, an inflammatory response is often due to stress. This is because there is communication between the central nervous system (stress) and the systemic immune system (inflammation). Many studies have linked prolonged psychological stress to the activation of pro-inflammatory pathways. For example, a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience found that people with anxiety disorders have lower levels of circulating omega-3 fatty acids.7 Another study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation reduced inflammation and anxiety in medical students during exams.13
This is all to say, when you’re deficient in essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, your body may not work properly, comfortably, and effectively. 8-13
- Main players: Vitamin D and calcium
- Deficiencies lead to: Joint pain, increased fracture risk, and decreased athletic performance
Running, jumping, or just simply walking can put stress on bones and joints. A focus on certain nutrients, which promote bone health, is needed.
Vitamin D can either be absorbed from sunlight, from fortified products, or through supplementation. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from the food you eat into your bones.
Calcium is the key nutrient for building bone and slowing the pace of bone loss. The recommended daily intake for calcium is 1,000 milligrams a day for adults up through age 50 and 1,200 mg a day for people ages 51 and older. To put into perspective, a cup of yogurt has about 350 mg of calcium.14
- Main players: Vitamins A, C, & E and zinc
- Deficiencies lead to: Decreased athletic performance, prolonged soreness, and slow down of muscle growth
Vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce muscle damage and speed up recovery after you exercise.
Another key player in muscle recovery is zinc. As the second most abundant trace mineral in your body, it plays a vital role in protein synthesis, DNA synthesis, and cell division. Also, zinc deficiency in males reduces testosterone, an essential hormone for fat burning and the growth and maintenance of muscle. 15,16
Personalized Nutrition Can Help
With the technology we have today, there are new ways to personalize your nutrition so you can put your best foot forward to maximize your energy, mental function, and strength.
A scientifically proven way to accurately know your nutrient status is through an evidence-based blood nutrient test. This will tell you exactly what you are deficient in, how deficient you are, and how much you need to take to reach and maintain healthy levels.
Baze is a next-generation personalized nutrition service that offers you the real science behind supplementation and results that you can feel. Learn more about the science here.
About the Author
Gabrielle has a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree in Health and Wellness Management from Merrimack College. She has varied experience in research, counseling, clinical nutrition, nutrition communications and marketing, food service management, and has worked with underserved areas in community nutrition. Gabrielle enjoys a healthy lifestyle through outdoor adventures, practicing mindfulness and compassion, and cooking her favorite dishes to share with friends and family.
- O’Leary, F., & Samman, S. (2010). Vitamin B12 in health and disease. Nutrients, 2(3), 299–316. doi:10.3390/nu2030299
- Combs, G. F. (2012). The vitamins: Amsterdam: Elsevier/ Academic Press.
- Durlach J, Pages N, Bac P, Bara M, Guiet-Bara A. Biorhythms and possible central regulation of magnesium status, phototherapy, darkness therapy and chronopathological forms of magnesium depletion, 2002. Magnes Res. (1-2):49-66.
- Veronese, N., et al., Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on physical performance in healthy elderly women involved in a weekly exercise program: a randomized controlled trial. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2014. 100(3): p. 974-981.
- Cheng, C. J., Kuo, E., & Huang, C. L. (2013). Extracellular potassium homeostasis: insights from hypokalemic periodic paralysis. Seminars in nephrology, 33(3), 237–247.
- Mushiyakh, Y., Dangaria, H., Qavi, S., Ali, N., Pannone, J., & Tompkins, D. (2012). Treatment and pathogenesis of acute hyperkalemia. Journal of community hospital internal medicine perspectives(4);3402.
- Su, K. P., Matsuoka, Y., & Pae, C. U. (2015). Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Prevention of Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Clinical psychopharmacology and neuroscience : the official scientific journal of the Korean College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 13(2), 129–137.
- Sears, B., & Ricordi, C. (2011). Anti-inflammatory nutrition as a pharmacological approach to treat obesity. Journal of obesity, 2011, 431985.
- Galland, L. (2010). Diet and Inflammation. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 25(6), 634–640.
- Hunter P. (2012). The inflammation theory of disease. The growing realization that chronic inflammation is crucial in many diseases opens new avenues for treatment. EMBO reports, 13(11), 968–970.
- Hansen AL, Dahl L, Olson G, Thornton D, Graff IE, Froyland L, Thayer JF, Pallesen S. “Fish consumption, sleep, daily functioning, and heart rate variability.” J Clin Sleep Med. 15.10(2014): 567-575.
- Liu JJ, Galfalvy HC, Cooper TB, Oquendo MA, Grunebaum MF, Mann JJ, Sublette ME. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) status in major depressive disorder with comorbid anxiety disorders, 2018. J Clin Psychiatry. (7):732-8.
- Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Belury MA, Andridge R, Malarkey WB, Glaser R. Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: a randomized controlled trial, 2011. Brain Behav Immun. 25(8):1725-34.
- Laird, E., Ward, M., McSorley, E., Strain, J. J., & Wallace, J. (2010). Vitamin D and bone health: potential mechanisms. Nutrients, 2(7), 693–724.
- Bentley DJ, Ackerman J, Clifford T, et al. Acute and Chronic Effects of Antioxidant Supplementation on Exercise Performance. In: Lamprecht M, editor. Antioxidants in Sport Nutrition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2015. Chapter 9. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK299045/
- Mullur, R., Liu, Y. Y., & Brent, G. A. (2014). Thyroid hormone regulation of metabolism. Physiological reviews, 94(2), 355–382.