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Young athletes In general, the nutritional principles that can optimize performance in adults should also apply to children. However, two overriding issues should be considered with young athletes. First, since children are growing, their nutritional needs are foremost in sports dietetics. All essential nutrients must be consumed at their needed levels, but adequate energy and protein are extremely critical for normal growth. The other major consideration for children is safety. Supplements that pose even the potential for minor risk should not be recommended for young athletes. A registered dietitian should be consulted before initiating questionable dietary practices in children.

Zinc is a micromineral that participates in many vital functions within the body. Dietary zinc is obtained by a variety of foods including protein rich foods such as meat, fish, poultry, and oysters, as well as whole grains and some vegetables. Some of zinc’s functions include involvement with protein synthesis, energy metabolism, sexual maturation, immune function, and taste. Many of the roles of zinc are carried out through its function as a cofactor for enzymes. Zinc deficiency produces an array of problems including abnormal growth and reproduction, poor wound healing, dysgeusia (abnormal taste), decreased immune function, and various other problems.