Many athletes may benefit from getting higher dosages of zinc than the recommended daily intake. Higher doses than 11 mg a day may improve sport performance, muscle recovery, strength, and growth.
How much zinc per day for athletes?
Actually, athletes have an increased risk of having low serum zinc concentrations. Even if they consume more zinc than the recommended daily dose from food. Constant strenuous exercise can negatively affect zinc metabolism.[1,2]
First, many athletes follow strict diets in order to lose weight. It can lead to nutrient deficiencies. For instance, endurance athletes regularly increase carbs, minimizing protein and fat intake. Extreme diet can cause zinc deficiencies in 90% of athletes!
Most noteworthy, symptoms of mild zinc deficiency aren’t always obvious. In athletes, zinc deficiency can lead to anorexia, significant loss in body weight, fatigue, and decreased endurance!
Therefore, athletes should be extra cautious with their diet. Besides macronutrients, athletes should get enough vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, and many more.
Zinc for muscle growth
We need zinc to build muscle mass! Zinc plays a key role in protein synthesis, maintaining protein structure and stability. Actually, one in every ten human proteins is a zinc protein.
Zinc is the second most abundant trace metal in the human body after iron! We have about 2–3 grams of zinc in the body. Most of it is stored in the muscle mass and bones. In fact, 60% of zinc in the body is found in the muscle mass and 30% in the bones!
Moreover, zinc supports muscle building, as it’s involved in muscle cell activation, proliferation and differentiation. Zinc plays a key role in muscle regeneration!
On the other hand, zinc deficiency may affect the proper function of muscle tissue. The body can’t synthesize certain zinc proteins.
Last, but not least, zinc is necessary for the synthesis of testosterone. Testosterone builds muscle mass by increasing muscle protein synthesis.
A zinc dosage of 30 mg can significantly increase free testosterone levels of athletes after resistance training.
Zinc for runners & other endurance athletes
Zinc is necessary for athletic performance, particularly in endurance sports.
First, high doses of zinc can reduce blood viscosity. Lower viscosity promotes oxygen delivery, which leads to improved aerobic performance.
Additionally, zinc may help increase muscle strength and develop type I fiber, which plays a key role in endurance exercises, such as running or cycling.
Endurance athletes may need more zinc than the recommended daily dosage of 11 mg. Even a daily dose of 20 mg may not be enough. In a study, participants increased their VO2peak, only after a daily zinc dose of 30 mg for 6 weeks.
Furthermore, zinc supplementation can’t instantly improve sport performance. It seems that athletes should take high dosages of zinc for weeks to totally replenish zinc stores in the body.
However, zinc deficiency is common in athletes, impairing endurance performance. In fact, zinc depletion leads to increased lactic acid and muscle fatigue.
High dosages of zinc for muscle recovery
Furthermore, high levels of zinc are beneficial for athletes for faster muscle recovery after strenuous exercise. Zinc has antioxidant properties which neutralize exercise-induced free radicals, helping muscle recover faster.
Strenuous endurance or muscular strength exercise significantly decreases zinc levels! Especially, if athletes work out until exhaustion. Therefore, taking high doses of zinc every day may prevent muscle exhaustion.
How much zinc for athletes?
Strenuous exercise can cause zinc deficiency, increase exercise-induced oxidative stress, and affect sport performance!
In acute zinc deficiency, the human body can retrieve zinc from the bones. Thus, athletes with chronic zinc deficiency have higher risk of developing osteoporosis!
Keep in mind that symptoms of mild zinc deficiency aren’t obvious. Athletes should be very cautious with zinc intake.
There are cases of acute zinc deficiency in which athletes require zinc dosages from supplements even higher than the maximum safe dose.
You’ll find a wide variety of zinc supplements on iHerb.
Always consult your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement.
Can athletes get high dosages from food?
The recommended daily intake of zinc is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men.
Most healthy people can take the recommended daily doses from food. However, people who require higher dosages, like athletes, may have a hard time to meet their needs from diet.
Meat, fortified cereals, beans, seeds, and nuts, fish, and other seafood are the best dietary sources of zinc.