Fortified to Thrive

Systems Managers

Jul 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

THE CLAIM: You need a mineral-rich diet, and chances are you aren't getting it. Many bars can help you achieve the proper balance of minerals, which, even in small amounts, are critical to keeping your body running smoothly.

B vitamins like thiamin, niacin, B6, and riboflavin are what your body needs to process energy. Simply put, you can't survive without them.
THE TRUTH: Maintaining a smoothly functioning power plant is impossible without minerals. They make sure your metabolism, pH levels, and skeletal structure are in prime working order. And unless you've been sticking to a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and dairy products, you may be running short on one or two vital minerals that could affect performance. Too little copper, for example, limits iron's ability to help blood cells move oxygen.

Each entry on the nutraceutical laundry list of commonly found minerals serves a purpose: Iron helps your red blood cells transport oxygen and boosts your immunity; copper helps build new bone and muscle tissue; magnesium speeds up muscle contractions; calcium regulates blood pressure; and zinc ensures a healthy metabolism.

Endurance athletes are especially susceptible to mineral deficits. Their high metabolism speeds the loss of calcium, iron, and zinc, and repeated stress from marathons, century rides, or Ironman-length triathlons contributes to further depletion of the body's deposits. An energy bar during long hours of training will keep those mineral losses in check.

B vitamins are catalysts that enable the body's enzymes to convert food into fuel. "Higher B-vitamin levels assist the metabolism of glucose, amino acids, and fats," says Paul Lachance, executive director of the Nutraceutical Institute, at Rutgers University. "And when you bonk, they're still on the job, drawing on other energy systems to keep you going."

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