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Nutrient intakes of elite Canadian athletes with a spinal cord injury Krempien, Jennifer Luella


Energy intakes of adults with spinal cord injury (SCI) have been reported to be relatively low with many micronutrients below recommended amounts but very little is known about the diets of athletes with SCI. This cross-sectional, observational study assessed energy intakes and estimated the prevalence of dietary inadequacy in a sample of elite Canadian athletes with SCI (n=32). Three-day self-reported food diaries completed at home and training camp were analyzed for energy (kcal), macronutrients, vitamins and elements and compared to the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). Energy intakes were 2156 ± 431 kcal for men and 1991 ± 510 kcal for women and the macronutrient intakes as a percentage of energy were within the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges for both men (55.6% carbohydrate, 17.9% protein, 28.1% fat) and women (53.3% carbohydrate, 17.9% protein, 28.9% fat). While at training camp, greater than 25% of men had mean intakes below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for magnesium, zinc, riboflavin, folate and vitamin B12. At home, prevalence of inadequacy decreased for magnesium, zinc and riboflavin but not for folate. At home, men had greater intakes of vitamin D (160.1 ± 133.4 IU vs. 38.5 ± 78.3 IU, p<0.05) and calcium (856 ± 330 mg vs. 693 ± 204 mg, p<0.05). The proportion of women with intakes below the EAR was greater while at training camp for magnesium, niacin and folate. No significant differences in the mean intake of any nutrients were detected between home or training camp for women. Cognitive dietary restraint scores were higher than expected for men with relatively low scores for disinhibition and hunger. These results demonstrate that athletes with SCI are at risk of several nutrient inadequacies relative to the DRIs, despite a diet with an appropriate macronutrient balance. A higher prevalence of nutrient inadequacy was observed in men especially while at training camp. Women were able to better maintain nutrient adequacy in both situations. This highlights an opportunity for coaches, administrators, sport scientists and dietitians working with these athletes to improve the access to better food choices and to educate athletes in making more balanced food choices.

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