The Details


IRON. Many active women have issues with iron (1-4). Even if women aren't anemic, milder deficiencies can affect energy & immune function (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 serum ferritin, a marker of iron stores (Link). You can make a general estimate of your iron intake by going here. However, realize that the iron in spinach or added to grain products is not real well absorbed. You could also ask a physician for a blood ferritin test. If results for your diet or ferritin are good, Vionica MAY NOT BE FOR YOU. Otherwise, you could consider using it. If you have actual anemia, talk to a physician or dietitian. Vionica could be part of a treatment plan, but you should get help on that.

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) and young women’s Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). However, these assume that iron is coming mostly from meat, which gives a relatively high iron absorption. No iron supplement comes close to matching that absorption (12). Thus, % DV for supplemental iron overstates the real contribution to iron needs.

ZINC.  A diet low in iron usually also is low in zinc. This mineral affects a lot of body processes and structures (26). Therefore, several zinc functions may impact exercise performance. One 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 US diet survey, about 40% of women ate under the zinc Recommended Dietary Allowance(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).

COPPER. This mineral helps release aerobic energy (1,12) and eliminates free radicals (1,12), which can accelerate fatigue (13).  Copper tends to be consumed below ideal levels by many people including young adult women (1,13-18). Also, eating above the current Recommended Dietary Allowance was shown in a study to improve exercise performance (19). Many supplements use copper oxide, which is not thought to be well absorbed (12), or copper gluconate, which has not fared well in published studies (20-22). Vionica contains copper glycinate which has done well in studies by the professor who developed Vionca (16,22-25).

IMPORTANT NOTE: In the study that led to Vionica (37), substituting generic mineral versions for the forms used in Vionica eliminated almost all the exercise performance benefits.

CARNITINE.  A diet low in iron would also be low in carnitine. This nonessential nutrient is needed to burn fat for energy (38) and affects blood flow that can impact exercise fatigue and recovery (39). Carnitne also helps copper with its energy release function (40). Although the body makes carnitine, intake adds to body stores (40). Supplemental carnitine has prevented blood carnitine drops after one type of exercise (41). It has also improved muscle recovery after exercise (42). An effect of carnitine on exercise-induced fatigue has not been shown yet in humans, but has been seen in other species (43,44). Vionica contains the absorbable carnitine equivalent of about 4 oz of beef (40).

PHOSPHATIDYLSERINE. Like carnitine, this molecule is both made by the body and eaten (45). This molecule could affect exercise performance by roles in the nervous system, through certain body enzymes, and by slowing inflammation, which can fatigue muscles 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.

What if I am anemic, a high school cross country runner, an exerciser or athlete who is not a big runner, or a young man? Anemic: Vioncia could be part of an anemia treatment, but discuss your situation with a physician or dietitian. They can contact Dr Bob with questions. High schoolers: Vionica may improve your run times. However, since many of you have anemia and other issues, follow the advice just given about anemia. Other exercisers/athletes: the published study saw effects on stationary biking and a step test in a fatigued state. So, Vionica may help with exertions besides running. Men: other than copper, the Vionica ingredients won’t help most of you.

Does Vionica come with a guaranteeNO. 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.

  1. Wardlaw GM, Hampl JS, DiSilvestro RA: Perspectives in Nutrition, 6th ed. McGraw Hill, New York, 2003.
  2. Chatard JC, Mujika I, Guy C, Lacour JR: Anemia and iron deficiency in athletes. Sports Medicine 1999;27:229–240.
  3. Dubnov G, Foldes AJ, Mann G, Magazanik A, Siderer M, Constantini N: High prevalence of iron deficiency and anemia in female military recruits. Military Medicine 2006;171:866–869.
  4. Malczewska J, Raczynski G, Stupnicki R: Iron status in female endurance athletes and in non-athletes. International Journal of Sports Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism 2000;10:260–270.
  5. Milman N, Jønsson L, Dyre P, Pedersen P, Larsen L: Ferrous bisglycinate 25 mg iron is as effective as ferrous sulfate 50 mg iron in the prophylaxis of iron deficiency and anemia during pregnancy in a randomized trial. Journal of Perinatal Medicine 2014;42:197-206.
  6. Coplin M, Schuette S, Leichtmann G, Lashner B: Tolerability of iron: a comparison of bis-glycino iron II and ferrous sulfate. Clinical Therapeutics 1991;13:606-612.
  7. Melamed N, Ben-Haroush A, Kaplan B, Yogev Y. Iron supplementation in pregnancy–does the preparation matter? Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics 2007;276:601-604.
  8. Coplin, M., Leichtmann, G. & Lashner, B. Tolerability of iron: Comparison of bis-glycino iron II and ferrous sulfate. Clinical Therapeutics 1991;13:606–612.
  9. van Stuijvenberg M, Smuts C, Wolmarans P, Lombard C, Dhansay M: The efficacy of ferrous bisglycinate and electrolytic iron as fortificants in bread in iron-deficient school children. British Journal of Nutrition 2006;95:532-538.
  10. Bovell-Benjamin A, Viteri F, Allen L: Iron absorption from ferrous bisglycinate and ferric trisglycinate in whole maize is regulated by iron status. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000;71:1563-1569.
  11. DiSilvestro RA, Joseph E: Ferritin readings in a group of female university student runners. FASEB Journal, in press (abstract).
  12. DiSilvestro RA: Handbook of Minerals as Nutritional Supplements, CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2005.
  13. Reid M: Reactive Oxygen Species as Agents of Fatigue. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2016;48:2239-2246.
  14. Klevay LM: Is the Western diet adequate in copper? Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology 2011;25:204–212.
  15. König J, Elmadfa I: Plasma copper concentration as marker of copper intake from food. Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 2000;44:129-134.
  16. DiSilvestro R, Selsby J, Siefker K: A pilot study of copper supplementation effects on plasma F2alpha isoprostanes and urinary collagen crosslinks in young adult women. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology 2010;24:165-168.
  17. DiSilvestro RA: Enzyme indicators of zinc or copper status in a group of college aged women. FASEB Journal, in press (abstract).
  18. Morrell A, Tallino S, Yu L, Burkhead J: The role of insufficient copper in lipid synthesis and fatty-liver disease. IUBMB Life 2017;69:263-270.
  19. Lukaski HC, Johnson PE: Dietary copper (Cu) at the recommended intake decreases muscle cytochrome c oxidase (CCO) activity and alters metabolic responses during exercise in men. FASEB Journal 2005:19:A982 (abstract).
  20. Pratt W, Omdahl J, Sorenson J: Lack of effects of copper gluconate supplementation. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1985;42:681-682.
  21. Nielsen F, Lukaski H, Johnson L, Roughead Z: Reported zinc, but not copper, intakes influence whole-body bone density, mineral content and T score responses to zinc and copper supplementation in healthy postmenopausal women. British Journal of Nutrition 2011;106:1872-1879.
  22. DiSilvestro R, Choban P, Aguila F: Nutritional Status 6 Weeks after Gastric Bypass Bariatric Surgery: Comparison of Two Nutritional Support Plans. FASEB Journal 2017;31:643.7 (abstract).
  23. Jones AA, DiSilvestro RA, Coleman M, Wagner TL: Copper supplementation of adult men: effects on blood copper enzyme activities & indicators of cardiovascular disease risk. Metabolism 1997;46:1380-1383.
  24. DiSilvestro RA, Marten JT, Skehan M: Effects of copper supplementation on ceruloplasmin and copper-zinc superoxide dismutase activities in free-living rheumatoid arthritis patients. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 1992;11:177-180.
  25. DiSilvestro RA, Joseph E, Raimo A, Kim YM: Copper supplementation effects on blood copper enzymes and plasma cardiovascular health markers in middle aged people. Metabolism 2012;61:1242-1246.
  26. Vallee BL, Falchuk KH: The biochemical basis of zinc physiology. Physiology Reviews 1993;73:79–118.
  27. Lukaski HC: Low dietary zinc decreases erythrocyte carbonic anhydrase activities and impairs cardiorespiratory function in men during exercise. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005;81:1045-1051.
  28. Sandstead H, Freeland-Graves J: Dietary phytate, zinc and hidden zinc deficiency. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine & Biology 2014;28:414-417.
  29. Armah SM: Fractional Zinc Absorption for Men, Women, and Adolescents Is Overestimated in the Current Dietary Reference Intakes. Journal of Nutrition 2016;146:1276-1280.
  30. Micheletti A, Rossi R, Rufini S: Zinc status in athletes, relation to diet and exercise. Sports Medicine 2001;31:577-582.
  31. Singh A, Deuster P, Moser P: Zinc and copper status in women by physical activity and menstrual status. Journal of Sports Medicine & Physical Fitness. 1990;30:29-36.
  32. Dietary Reference Intakes, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine: Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.
  33. Kikukawa A, Kobayashi A: Changes in urinary zinc and copper with strenuous physical exercise. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 2002;73:991-995.
  34. DiSilvestro RA, Koch E, Rakes L: Moderately High Dose Zinc Gluconate or Zinc Glycinate: Effects on Plasma Zinc and Erythrocyte Superoxide Dismutase Activities in Young Adult Women. Biological Trace Element Research 2015;168:11-14.
  35. Gandia P, Bour D, Maurette JM, Donazzolo Y, Duchène P, Béjot M, Houin G: A bioavailability study comparing two oral formulations containing zinc (Zn bis-glycinate vs. Zn gluconate) after a single administration to twelve healthy female volunteers. International Journal for Vitamin & Nutrition Research 2007;77:243–248.
  36. DiSilvestro RA, Swan M: Comparison of four commercially available zinc supplements for performance in a zinc tolerance test. FASEB Journal 2008;22:693.3 (abstract).
  37. DiSilvestro R, Hart S, Marshall T, Joseph E, Reau A, Swain CB, Diehl J: Enhanced aerobic exercise performance in women by a combination of three mineral Chelates plus two conditionally essential nutrients. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2017;14:42.
  38. Stephens FB, Constantin-Teodosiu D, Greenhaff PL: New insights concerning the role of carnitine in the regulation of fuel metabolism in skeletal muscle. Journal of Physiology 2007;581:431–444.
  39. Katircioglu SF, Grandjean PA, Kucuker S, Saritas Z, Yavas S, Tasdemir O, Bayazit K: Effects of carnitine on preconditioned latissimus dorsi muscle at different burst frequencies. Journal of Cardiac Surgery 1997;12:120-125.
  40. Rebouche CJ. Kinetics, pharmacokinetics, and regulation of L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine metabolism. Annals of the NY Academy of Sciences 2004;1033:30-41.
  41. Nüesch R, Rossetto M, Martina B: Plasma and urine carnitine concentrations in well-trained athletes at rest and after exercise. Influence of L-carnitine intake. Drugs Under Experimental and Clinical Research 1999;25:167-171.
  42. Huang A, Owen K: Role of supplementary L-carnitine in exercise and exercise recovery. Medicine and Sports Science 2012;59:135-142.
  43. Kim J, Pan J, Lee E, Kim Y: L-Carnitine enhances exercise endurance capacity by promoting muscle oxidative metabolism in mice. Biochemical & Biophysical Research Communications 2015;464:568-573.
  44. Pandareesh M, Anand T: Ergogenic effect of dietary L-carnitine and fat supplementation against exercise induced physical fatigue in Wistar rats. Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry 2013;69:799-809.
  45. Kingsley M. Effects of phosphatidylserine supplementation on exercising humans. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) [serial online]. 2006;36(8):657-669.
  46. Kingsley M. Effects of phosphatidylserine supplementation on exercising humans. Sports Med. 2006;36:657-69.
  47. Starks M, Starks S, Kingsley M, Purpura M, Jäger R. The effects of phosphatidylserine on endocrine response to moderate intensity exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2008;5:11.
  48. Wells AJ, Hoffman JR, Gonzalez AM, Stout JR, Fragala MS, Mangine GT, McCormack WP, Jajtner AR, Townsend, JR, Robinson, EH. Phosphatidylserine and caffeine attenuate postexercise mood disturbance and perception of fatigue in humans. Nutr Res. 2013;33:464-72.
  49. Kingsley M, Miller M, Kilduff L, McEneny J, Benton D. Effects of phosphatidylserine on exercise capacity during cycling in active males. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006;38:64-71.