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Nutrients for Sport

Updated: May 11, 2021

As spring approaches and the outlook regarding the lifting of lockdown restrictions appears optimistic, we are all really looking forward to getting back to our normal sport and fitness activities, whether that is five-a-side football, local cricket or rugby, or getting back to the open spaces on the golf course.

Much has been written about the benefits of vitamin D, both for bone and muscle health, and early research results pointing to benefits in boosting immunity against COVID-19, but today I want to write about two other nutrients that have benefits in sport, and don’t get talked about quite so much in the sport sector – Curcumin and Magnesium.

Many of us are familiar with Curcumin, which is the active constituent of Turmeric, and has been used for hundreds of years in Ayurvedic medicine. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as being beneficial for supporting immunity and digestive health.

The proportion of Curcumin found in the Turmeric herb is very small, so it may be difficult to derive benefit from using the herb in cooking, so if you are taking a supplement it is better to take Curcumin itself. As it is fat soluble, it will get absorbed better when taken with food, and in fact it has been shown that when taken with piperine (in black pepper), the absorption of Curcumin improves dramatically.

So what about sport? A study carried out by The University of Queensland last year found that taking Curcumin improved the incidence of DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. You know the way it gets you. When you do some new form of exercise, or vary your training method, you feel fine immediately afterwards, but then on day 3, your muscles really ache!

The authors suggest that “curcumin may facilitate a quicker return to exercise training and/or allow a higher training intensity than a placebo by reducing post-exercise pain, modulating inflammatory pathways and reducing lactate accumulation in an exercising population” which has to be a good thing!