Why is nutrition important for health and athletic performance? It is because nutrients are used in cells for our body function.
Each cell has several kinds of organelle such as nucleus, mitochondria and etc. You might remember those names from biology classes. Each organelle has specific tasks, and they need specific nutrients to accomplish their tasks.
Let’s take a look at mitochondria as an example. Mitochondria produce energy aka ATP by using nutrients such as coenzyme Q10 (aka CoQ10) and L-carnitine (amino acid). Mitochondria produce about 95% of our body energy. Therefore, if proper nutrition was not provided, mitochondria would not be able to produce energy and then the body would not be able to keep moving.
Efficiency of mitochondria is affected by surrounded environment such as what kind of food you eat, how much you exercise, if you have stress and so on. When mitochondria produce energy (ATP), harmful product is made as a byproduct. The product is called reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS can cause damaging DNA. Less efficient mitochondria make more ROS, and more efficient mitochondria make fewer ROS. If you eat healthy food and exercise regularly, mitochondria will make more energy. If you eat unhealthy food and have stress, mitochondria will produce more ROS.
Let’s take a look at a specific nutrient for mitochondria. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential component to produce energy in mitochondria. Our body cannot function without CoQ10. Proper amount of CoQ10 improve energy production. Also, CoQ10 work as an antioxidant. Lack of CoQ10 may cause depression, fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s disease. Mitochondria exist not only one but also multiple numbers in a cell. There are several different organelles in cell. Each of them has certain functions.
There are 30 trillion cells in our body. Similar cell types make up tissues. Different tissues make up organs. Groups of different organs make up organ systems. Different organ systems make up organism which is us, human being. Therefore, those 30 trillion cells need proper nutrients for body to work efficiently. Otherwise body will not be functioned.
If you do not have enough nutrition, athletic performance will not be reached maximum potential because signals from the brain to muscles are not optimally transferred, injuries will not be recovered fast because proteins are not efficiently produced to repair damaged tissues, or health will not be maintained because your systems in body will not be properly functioned. Therefore, getting right nutrients in right amounts is essential.
Berardi, John, et al. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition 3rd Edition. Precision Nutrition, 2016
Murray, Michael T. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1996