Considerations for the consumption of vitamin and mineral supplements in athlete populations


June 2023


Vitamins and minerals are of fundamental importance to numerous human functions that are essential to optimise athlete performance. Athletes incur a high turnover of key vitamins and minerals and are therefore dependent on sufficient energy intake to replenish nutrient stores. However, many athletes are poor at servicing their energy replenishment needs, especially female athletes, and although a ‘food first approach’ to meeting nutrient requirements is the primary goal, it may be important for some athletes to consider a vitamin and/or mineral supplement to meet their daily needs. When working to determine if an athlete requires vitamin or mineral supplements, practitioners should use a robust framework to assess the overall energy requirements, current dietary practices and the biological and clinical status of their athletes. Of note, any supplementation plan should account for the various factors that may impact the efficacy of the approach (e.g. athlete sex, the nutrient recommended dietary intake, supplement dose/timing, co-consumption of other foods and any food–drug interactions). Importantly, there are numerous vitamins and minerals of key importance to athletes, each having specific relevance to certain situations (e.g. iron and B vitamins are significant contributors to haematological adaptation, calcium and vitamin D are important to bone health and folate is important in the female athlete); therefore, the appropriate supplement for a given situation should be carefully considered and consumed with the goal to augment an athlete’s diet. Sports Med (2023) epub ahead of print