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Nutrient Deficiencies in Athletes

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Nutrient Deficiencies in Athletes

Cheerleader at basketball game.

Cheerleader at basketball game.

Outlook Staff

Cheerleader at basketball game.

Outlook Staff

Outlook Staff

Cheerleader at basketball game.

Shasta Hecht, Writer

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Eat healthy. Get enough sleep. Hydrate. These are all statements that most high school athletes hear on a regular basis. Everyday, athletes are told what to do so that they can perform to the best of their abilities until eventually it becomes intuitive.

However, the question is; what happens when an athlete’s performance starts to decrease? There seems to be no problems with their life style. They eat healthy, get the recommended amount of sleep, and hydrate all day. So what is an athlete supposed to do when their fatigue turns into something more serious? Most do not realize that they might be feeling effects of a nutrient deficiency. The reason being simply because there is limited conversation surrounding the problem, despite how common it turns out to be.

To understand the problem at Capital High School, I interviewed several athletes who participate in sports here at CHS. What I discovered is extremely concerning for student athletes.

When asked if she knew someone who had experienced a nutrient deficiency, Ella Johnson of the volleyball team said, “I have. Quite a few people especially at the high school level suffer from nutrient  deficiencies and improper eating habits.” Johnson was able to acknowledge the problem. However when I asked a follow up question if she had heard a lot of conversation surrounding it at Capital she replied with, “…Not a lot of people want to talk about it…It’s definitely a sensitive topic.” Without knowing it she has pointed out the exact problem. The stigma surrounding nutrient deficiencies has prevented athletes and teams from talking about it. Especially since the causes of it can include eating disorders. According to NCBI, “…there is evidence that female athletes and especially female athletes in endurance sports are at a higher risk of acquiring an eating disorder.” Strangely enough, these are the very athletes that need proper nutrients the most.  

In another instance, varsity cross country runner Grace Playstead revealed her struggle with an iron deficiency and stated, “I think that it [nutrient deficiencies] is ignored by a lot of people and …it should be stressed more for people to get tested…so that they can catch the problem early.” In fact, according to NCBI “Athletes, particularly female athletes…should be periodically screened for iron status.” The reason being that they can cause extremely damaging affects to an athlete and their performance. Playstead added, “My performance has decreased a lot and I feel very fatigued.” This may seem mild, but in severe cases athletes can suffer from increased risk of stress fractures, electrolyte imbalances, and osteoporosis among other serious conditions.

If this goes unnoticed and ignored, it will continue to plague young athletes, destroying their careers.

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Nutrient Deficiencies in Athletes