Nutrition & Immunity for Athletes
Often athletes rely heavily on nutritional supplements to enhance performance. In theory high doses of antioxidant vitamins, glutamine supplementation or Echinacea extracts are thought to prevent exercise-induced immune suppression and provide protection from infection. There is currently a lack of evidence to support benefits of these nutritional substances to sporting performance.
However, to maintain optimum immune function an adequate dietary intake of carbohydrate, protein and specific micronutrients including vitamins A, C, E, B6 and B12, and iron, zinc, copper and selenium are needed. Higher doses of these nutrients have not been shown to offer any advantage over what can be provided by a well-chosen diet. Current opinion is that athletes should invest in nutrient-rich foods and fluids that provide energy, a wide range of vitamins, minerals and other important substances, such as phyto-chemicals, found naturally in foods.