Nutrition for Team Players

The aging process, at least in inactive people, is accompanied by many physiological changes that affect nutritional needs. These are summarised in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Major age-related changes that may influence nutrient requirements of masters athletes.

Age-related change Nutritional implication
Decreased muscle mass Decreased energy requirements
Decreased aerobic capacity Decreased energy requirements
Decreased muscle glycogen (CHO) stores Decreased energy requirements
Decreased bone density Increased need for calcium and vitamin D
Decreased immune function Increased need for vitamins B6, E and zinc
Decreased gastric acid Increased need for vitamin B12, folic acid, calcium, iron and zinc
Decreased skin capacity for vitamin D synthesis Increased need for vitamin D
Decreased calcium bioavailability Increased need for calcium and vitamin D
Decreased liver uptake of retinol Decreased need for vitamin A
Decreased efficiency in metabolic use of pyridoxal (one form of vitamin B6) Increased need for vitamin B6
Increased oxidative stress status Increased need for vitamins A, C and E
Increased levels of homocysteine (an amino acid related to heart disease) Increased need for folate and vitamins B6 and B12
Decreased thirst perception Increased fluid needs
Decreased kidney function Increased fluid needs

This table suggest that older people in general have increased needs for calcium, vitamins, and the minerals calcium, iron and zinc. However, when we talk about masters athletes who exhibit the changes outlined above, we must also consider the effects that exercise has on any individual young or old (see Table 2 below).

Table 2: The effects of aging and exercise on factors that affect nutrition.

Factor Aging Effect Exercise Effect
Resting metabolic rate
Total energy expenditure
Thermic effect of food
Total body water
Total bone and muscle mass
Protein synthesis and turnover rate
Gut transit time of food
Appetite and energy intake
Glycogen storage capacity and uptake
Fat breakdown chemical activity
LDL Cholesterol
HDL Cholesterol
Growth hormone