Vitamin and mineral status: effects on physical performance

Nutrition. 2004 Jul-Aug;20(7-8):632-44. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2004.04.001.


Public health recommendations encourage the selection of a balanced diet and increasing physical activity to foster health and well-being. Whereas the adverse effects of restricted intakes of protein, fat, and carbohydrate on physical performance are well known, there is limited information about the impact of low intakes of vitamins and minerals on the exercise capacity and performance of humans. Physically active people generally consume amounts of vitamins and minerals consistent with the recommendations for the general public. However, when intakes are less than recommendations, some noticeable functional impairments occur. Acute or short-term marginal deficiencies, identified by blood biochemical measures of vitamin B status, had no impacts on performance measures. Severe deprivation of folate and vitamin B12 result in anemia and reduce endurance work performance. Evidence of vitamin A and E deficiencies in athletic individuals is lacking apparently because body storage is appreciable. In contrast to vitamins, marginal mineral deficiencies impair performance. Iron deficiency, with or without anemia, impairs muscle function and limits work capacity. Magnesium deprivation increases oxygen requirements to complete submaximal exercise and reduces endurance performance. Use of vitamin and mineral supplements does not improve measures of performance in people consuming adequate diets. Young girls and individuals participating in activities with weight classifications or aesthetic components are prone to nutrient deficiencies because they restrict food intake and specific micronutrient-rich foods. This information will be useful to professionals who counsel physically active people and scientific groups who make dietary recommendations to improve health and optimize genetic potential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Ascorbic Acid / physiology
  • Chromium / administration & dosage
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Iron / administration & dosage
  • Magnesium / administration & dosage
  • Minerals* / administration & dosage
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Nutritional Status / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin A / physiology
  • Vitamin B Complex / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin B Complex / physiology
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / physiology
  • Vitamins*
  • Zinc / administration & dosage


  • Minerals
  • Vitamins
  • Chromium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Vitamin E
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Ascorbic Acid