Many people do sport in their free time as a balance to their daily work and for the joy of exercise. This ranges from leisurely jogging to intensive, ambitious training sessions and competitions that push the individual to their limit. With heavy and frequent exertion, the body needs more nutrients. For the sports training of amateur and competitive athletes, macronutrients such as fats and carbohydrates provide important energy. However, the workout increases not only our need for macronutrients, but also for micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

Did you know that nutrients can be used for increased energy needs and physical stress?

To keep your body healthy and able to perform in sports, and to counteract the consumption of significantly more energy as well as the loss of considerable amounts of fluids and minerals, you can also support your body with high-quality micronutrients.

Here you will find an example on RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports), as well as information on the micronutrients that are often missing, suggestions & information on critical micronutrients, prevention & tips. 

Example: RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports)

What effects does RED-S have on health?

  • Decreased strength and endurance
  • Increased risk of injury
  • Slowed metabolism
  • Decreased response to exercise
  • Increased depression or irritability
  • Decreased fertility

Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports (RED-S) is a syndrome that is triggered when the amount of energy athletes supply to their body in the form of food and fluid is less than the energy they consume during sport. The food they consume simply does not give them enough energy to support both normal body functions and training. In extremely active athletes, the body tries to support training and conserve energy by reducing the efficiency of some of the body's processes or even stopping them altogether. These impaired bodily functions can include menstrual problems, impaired bone health, a weaker immune system and a poorer resting heart rate. For very active people, this can also mean a higher risk of injury.

How can this deficiency be avoided?

The basis of a sports diet should consist of a varied selection of high-quality foods and should

  • provide sufficient energy to the body,
  • contain sufficient amounts of essential nutrients,
  • provide sufficient fluids,
  • be well tolerated,
  • allow for high intensity and high volume exercise; and
  • promote rapid recovery after intense exercise.

When calorie intake is too low, the body needs the available energy primarily to meet the acute demand caused by physical activity. Foods in the popular macro range are often not a sufficient energy supplier, e.g. in the case of carbohydrates, the quantities of food required for intensive, athletic exertion can reach amounts that are often difficult to eat in practice (e.g. 1-2 kg cooked pasta/'day).

How do I calculate the energy requirement?

Numerous factors influence the need for energy suppliers (macronutrients). Energy must be sufficient to meet the increased demand as well as the need for normal body functions.

Protein supplements are good for supporting the building/maintenance of muscle mass and for maintaining normal bones. The benefit of sports bars is the supply of energy (especially carbohydrates and protein). Sport drinks provide performance-relevant ingredients such as water and carbohydrates as well as electrolytes and minerals.

Important: In general, macronutrient products without added vitamins are to be preferred (overlap with other supplements), exception: minerals in sports drinks.

Which micronutrients are often missing?

Without an adequate supply of micronutrients, it is not possible to maintain health and athletic performance. The greatly increased physical activity leads to an acceleration and activation of many metabolic processes in athletes. Tissue has to be constantly built up and repaired and, in addition, many micronutrients are lost through sweat. The extent of these losses varies from person to person. In principle, athletes should take at least the recommended daily amount of a micronutrient for their age group and gender. The risk of micronutrient deficiencies is particularly high in athletes with an insufficient energy intake (e.g. on a reduction diet), with an unbalanced diet or very high nutrient losses (e.g. sweating).

Excerpt of some critical micronutrients for athletes

Minerals - focus on magnesium and calcium
An athlete loses minerals mainly through sweat and/or urine. In addition, abstaining from animal products and/or a too low energy intake can lead to mineral deficiencies. A simultaneous deficiency of both calcium and vitamin D increases the risk of fatigue fractures and insufficient bone density. Women in particular are at increased risk of low bone density if their total energy/nutritional intake is too low. Because of the versatile effect of magnesium on energy metabolism, a deficiency impairs endurance performance and at the same time increases the oxygen requirement in sport. Athletes from a wide variety of sports are often found to be deficient in magnesium. In such cases, it makes sense to take additional magnesium.

Vitamin C/antioxidants
In addition to its great importance for the immune system, vitamin C also plays an important role in numerous other important functions that are essential for athletes (antioxidant, tissue formation, etc.). Intense sporting activities can lead to a higher exposure to free radicals. Antioxidant micronutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and selenium help protect cell walls from such oxidative damage.

A multivitamin preparation for an adequate and balanced supply of vitamins forms the basis. It is important to ensure optimal energy production as well as the building and repair of tissue and the production of blood cells.

Vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin
Vitamin D can be ingested in small amounts through food, but is largely produced through the skin by means of sunlight. In northern latitudes, the intensity and duration of sunlight are reduced. Especially in winter, the risk of vitamin D deficiency is massively increased. Vitamin D is important for bone metabolism, skeletal muscles, the nervous system, the immune system and inflammatory metabolism.

The transport of oxygen in our body is central to physical performance (especially endurance), but also to the normal functioning of other bodily functions. Iron plays a major role in the transport of oxygen. A too low iron status is often found in athletes. If a deficiency is detected, supplementation can improve performance. Endurance athletes and vegetarians in particular often have an iron deficiency.

Because of the many functions of zinc (including the immune system, thyroid, energy supply, muscle repair), a zinc deficiency has a negative impact on the health and performance of athletes. There is an increased risk of zinc deficiency, especially in diets low in animal protein and high in dietary fibre (especially vegetarian diets).


  • Female athletes (especially vegetarians or those with eating disorders) are often deficient in vitamins B2, B6, B12 and folic acid.
  • In cases of proven iron deficiency, additional supplementation makes sense and leads to an increase in performance.
  • Especially during longer, intensive performances, people with "salty" sweat should use sports drinks that have adequate amounts of common salt and carbohydrates (potassium, common salt).
  • You can roughly estimate whether you are drinking enough during exercise by weighing yourself before and after exercise. If the weight after exercise is higher than before, you have drunk too much; if the weight is lower, you should drink accordingly.

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