Success on the football field requires teamwork, dedication, toughness, skill, strength, speed and a proper diet. A healthy diet can help you recover more quickly from football games and practices and gain strength more rapidly. While football players require the same range of vitamins and minerals as non-football players, there are four vitamins and minerals that are especially important for those who spend time on the gridiron.
The essential mineral calcium is well known for its role on promoting bone health. Additionally, calcium acts as an electrolyte in muscle cells—helping them contract and relax normally. The University of Montana advises athletes to consume adequate calcium to prevent the stress fractures that commonly plague athletes such as football players. In addition to dairy foods, calcium-rich choices include broccoli, kale, legumes and spinach. The Office of Dietary Supplements recommends 1,000 mg of daily calcium for adults over the age of 18.
Every breath that you take taps into your red blood cells to transport inhaled oxygen around the body. Iron is essential for binding oxygen to red blood cells so they can reach your muscles. The University of Montana adds that iron's other functions include immunity and enzyme function. You can reach your iron intake requirements by consuming adequate amounts of poultry, green leafy vegetables, beans and lean cuts of red meat. Adult men should opt for 8 mg of daily iron and women should consume 18, the ODS reports.
Many football players struggle with practicing with sore muscles. While cooling down, stretching and eating a recovery meal can aid in muscle recovery, it may not be enough for some football players. According to the July 2006 "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism," taking 3 g daily of supplemental vitamin C can reduce muscle soreness in athletes. Vitamin C-rich foods include limes, oranges, broccoli and red bell peppers.
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that shields your body from the damage caused by oxidation. Oxidation is a natural product of your body's metabolism that can damage and destroy healthy cells. According to Rice University, oxidation is present in higher levels in athletes. They advise athletes to consume adequate vitamin E to offset this effect. They add that the current RDA for vitamin E is 15 International Units for men and 12 International Units for women.
- Montana.edu: Vitamins and Minerals
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
- "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism"; Effect of high dose vitamin C supplementation on muscle soreness, damage, function, and oxidative stress to eccentric exercise; S.C. Bryer et al.; July 2006
- Rice.edu: Antioxidants and Free radicals