4 Micronutrients to Promote Better Sleep

Are you getting your 7-9 hours of sleep each night? Unfortunately, for many busy runners (especially in times of peak training) the answer is NO. 

Sleep services all aspects of our body in one aspect or another: energy balance, recovery, intellectual function, alertness & mood.

One of the most underrated sleep hygiene practices that really goes far in improving quality sleep is making the right dietary choices.

Here are four main vitamins and minerals that can be found in food that aid in promoting sleep as well as natural dietary sources of each:

1) Tryptophan is an amino acid that when ingested gets turned into the neurotransmitter serotonin and then converted into the hormone melatonin.

Sources include:

  • Dairy products (milk, low-fat yogurt, cheese)
  • Poultry (turkey, chicken)
  • Seafood (shrimp, salmon, halibut, tuna, sardines, cod)
  • Nuts and seeds (flax, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts)
  • Legumes (kidney beans, lima beans, black beans split peas, chickpeas)
  • Fruits (apples, bananas, peaches, avocado)
  • Vegetables (spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, asparagus, onions, seaweed)
  • Grains (wheat, rice, barley, corn, oats)

2) Magnesium is a powerful mineral that is instrumental in sleep and is a natural relaxant that helps deactivate adrenaline.

Sources include:

  • Dark leafy greens (baby spinach, kale, collard greens)
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts, flaxseed, pecans)
  • Fish (salmon, halibut, tuna, mackerel)
  • Soybeans
  • Banana
  • Avocados

3) Calcium is another mineral that helps the brain make melatonin.

Sources include:

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Dairy
  • Sardines
  • Fortified cereals
  • Soybeans
  • Green snap peas
  • Broccoli

4) Vitamin B6 also helps convert tryptophan into melatonin.

Sources include:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Fish (tuna, salmon, halibut)
  • Meat (chicken, tuna, lean pork, lean beef,)
  • Bananas
  • Spinach
  • Avocado

Looking for nutrition support?

To help fine tune your nutrition intake to optimize your sleep, your performance, and your overall health, click HERE to work 1:1 with our practitioners today! ⁠

Credit: NR Practitioner Kristin Duyn, MS

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