The Hiker’s Diet: Vitamins and Minerals

hiker's diet, vitamins and minerals, backpacking food ideas

Vitamins and minerals act as the body’s “spark plugs” for physical activity. Some help the body utilize the energy generated from carbohydrates, protein and fats, whereas others help the muscles to contract and relax.

When someone doesn’t consume the proper vitamins, serious health problems can develop. Vitamin deficiencies may not show on the surface with apparent signs and/or symptoms, but a lack of essential vitamins will have an adverse impact on performance, affect the body’s overall tone and cause a number of factors impeding stability.

To get the vitamins and minerals you need it’s best to eat a varied diet made up of foods rich in nutrients including: unsaturated oils, beans, fish, fruits, grains, legumes, lean meats, and dairy products.

Vitamins & minerals recommended for hikers

Hikers especially need the vitamin B group, vitamin D, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium. They also need antioxidants like vitamins A (β-carotene), C and E, plus selenium.

Having enough of the B vitamins is vital for ensuring the optimum production of energy as well as to repair and build muscle tissue. This B-group of vitamins provide important functions that directly relate to exercise: Vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), and B7 (biotin) help produce energy during exercise. Vitamins B9 (folic acid) and B12 are needed to produce red blood cells, to synthesize protein, and to repair and maintain tissue.

The chart below will give you an idea of what nutrients are essential for hikers, what functions and benefits they provide, and what foods are good sources for each.

Click on the image below to download full chart.

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