IRON. Many active women have issues with iron (1-4). Iron deficiency can produce anemia, which causes fatigue and limits energy. However, even milder deficiencies without anemia can affect energy (1). NOT all active young women have iron deficits. Still, in a study by Vionica’s formulator (11), almost all of 39 women fitness runners had below ideal readings for a marker of iron stores (serum ferritin). A scientific summary of this study is given below above the references. If you wonder about your own iron stores, ask a physician for a blood test for ferritin.
Vionica contains Ferrochel® iron, which can have less digestive system problems, and sometimes better absorption, than commonly used iron forms (5-11). Vionica’s iron dose exceeds the Daily Value (DV), which equals the young adult woman’s Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). However, the RDA assumes that most dietary iron comes from meat, which gives a relatively high iron absorption (http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRI-Tables/6_%20Elements%20Summary.pdf?la=en). No iron supplement comes close to matching that absorption (12). Thus, a % DV for supplemental iron implies a much higher contribution to iron needs than actually occurs.
COPPER. This essential mineral helps release aerobic energy (1,12) and eliminates free radicals (1,12), which can accelerate fatigue (13). Copper tends to be consumed at less than ideal levels by many people in the USA including young adult women (1,13-18). Also, eating above the current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) was shown in one study to improve exercise performance (19). Many supplements use copper oxide, which is not considered to be well absorbed (12), or copper gluconate, which has not shown effectiveness in published studies (20-22). Vionica contains copper glycinate which has performed well in studies done by the professor who developed Vionca (16,22-25).
ZINC. Zinc affects a wide range of body processes and structures (26). Therefore, a number of zinc functions could theoretically impact exercise performance. One such function is a role in the enzyme carbonic anhydrase. This function is reduced by moderately low zinc intake, which simultaneously reduces cardiorespiratory function during exercise (27). Multiple studies (28-31) find low zinc intake in active people. Also, in a USA diet survey, about 40% of women ate under the zinc Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)(32). Moreover, the zinc RDAs may not be set high enough (28,29). To make matters worse, exercise training may raise zinc requirements even more (30,33). So, it would seem that suboptimal zinc intake could occur in many active women. Vionica contains zinc glycinate, which has outperformed some other forms of zinc in certain studies (34-36).
IMPORTANT NOTE: In the study that led to developing Vionica (37), substituting more generic mineral versions for the forms used in Vionica eliminated almost all the exercise performance benefits.
CARNITINE. This nutrient is needed to burn fat for energy (38); it also affects blood flow in a way that can impact exercise fatigue and recovery (39). Although the body makes carnitine, oral intake also contributes to body stores (40). Supplemental carnitine has been shown to prevent a drop in blood carnitine levels after one type of exercise (41). Supplemental carnitine has also been shown to improve muscle recovery after exercise (42), an effect which could enhance training effects on exercise performance. An effect of carnitine on exercise-induced fatigue has not been shown yet in humans, but has been seen in other species (43,44).
PHOSPHATIDYLSERINE. Like carnitine, our body both makes this molecule and obtains it from diet (45). This molecule could affect exercise performance by its roles in the nervous system, by affecting certain body enzymes, and by slowing inflammation, a process that can produce muscle fatigue and delay recovery (46,47). Supplementation with phosphatidylserine has lowered perceived fatigue during exercise (48), and has extended time to exhaustion in a long biking session (49).
What if I already take a multi-vitamin mineral supplement? It likely does not contain iron, and likely contains zinc and copper as oxides, which are not ideal forms of these minerals (12). If you use Vionica, but still want to take vitamins, you could buy a vitamin only supplement like Swanson product # SW1621. You would miss a few minerals that way, but you may not need to supplement those minerals anyway. A future version of Vionica will add the vitamins & minerals found in a typical multi supplement.
Does Vionica come with a guarantee? No. The effects of this product depend on a person’s exercise training, background diet, and other factors.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Summary of Ferritin study: Young adult, female competitive distance runners sometimes show iron deficiency. This can produce anemia as well as more moderate, but still unhealthy, non-anemia iron deficiencies. Iron status has not been examined as much in young women who run mostly for fitness and not competition. In a new study, 39 of these type women were assessed for plasma ferritin concentrations, an indicator of iron status. Selected subjects all reported themselves as not anemic. Average 3 mile run time was 26.25 + 3.0 minutes (mean + SD). Ferritin readings were 12.4 + 12.3 ng/mL (mean + SD). Out of the 39 women, 29 had readings that fell below 15, which some consider the cutoff for iron deficiency. In addition, all but 3 subjects had values below the average reading listed for US women of this age by the Center for Disease Control. Ferritin values rose in subjects given a supplement with 3 minerals including iron as bisglycinate (36 mg iron/day). This rise was not seen with iron as ferrous sulfate. In conclusion, this study supported the idea that some degree of iron deficiency occurs in many young women who run for fitness.
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