When it comes to physical performance and overall wellness, it’s priority for me to simplify education and provide practical recommendations. As a mom and business owner who maintains a high level of fitness, I completely relate to the needs of my athletes and active clients. Most of the tips and tricks I suggest to support performance and wellness are ones I utilize myself – and when it comes to convenience, it doesn’t get much easier than adding a glass of 100% orange juice to your routine! While each 8 ounce serving has been associated with a variety of health benefits including heart, brain, skin, bone and immune system health, there are plenty of health benefits of orange juice for athletes in particular!
Thanks to Florida Orange Juice for sponsoring this post! As always, all opinions are my own, and I only engage in authentic partnerships with those who share similar philosophies and values.
Nutrients in Orange Juice
100% orange juice provides many important nutrients your body needs including vitamin C, potassium, folate and thiamin. It’s also the primary dietary source of hesperidin, a polyphenol found in oranges and orange juice. Polyphenols are beneficial plant compounds that have been found to support anti-inflammatory defenses in the body.
Florida Orange Juice also contains a variety of other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin A, and when fortified, calcium and vitamin D. Read on for how these nutrients are helpful for athletes and those with high levels of activity, plus ways to enjoy Florida OJ throughout the day with no additional effort!
Orange Juice and Iron Absorption
Did you know that athletes at every level are at a higher risk of low iron stores as well as iron deficiency anemia? While more common in females and endurance athletes, low iron impacts males and others training regularly, too. Consequences without anemia include physical fatigue during exercise, which can impact performance. In those with anemia, symptoms can extend to general fatigue, headaches, reduced immune function, and more.
One well known fact is that 100% orange juice is an excellent source of vitamin C. When it comes to orange juice and iron absorption, In addition to other roles, vitamin C has been known for quite some time to enhance the absorption of iron found in plant foods. While 50 mg makes a significant impact, a glass of 100% OJ offers over 100mg! Next time you’re having an iron-rich plant-based meal, whether it be filled with whole grains, lentils, or tofu, pair it with 8 ounces of Florida Orange Juice. For athletes this can look like adding a glass to a tofu wrap at lunch to complete the meal! Bonus: the B6 and folate found in OJ are also important in supporting blood health.
Orange Juice for the Immune System
For over a decade I’ve educated my athletes on the importance of a healthy immune system, but now more than ever, this hot topic is getting the attention it always deserves. It’s well accepted that immunosuppression is common following intense exercise, which can mean over-training, poor nutrition, and overall poor recovery from exercise can increase the risk of illness. For endurance athletes and those participating in cold-weather sports, the risk for the common cold and respiratory infections is also higher. Since the immune system plays a role in inflammation, supporting it is also important for recovery.
One of the most recognize health benefits of orange juice is it’s high content of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and is important for immune system function. When choosing fortified OJ, you also get vitamin D to support the immune system. On top of this, the polyphenol hesperidin is abundantly found in Florida Orange Juice with helpful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Orange juice also features phytochemical carotenoids and flavonoids with antioxidant properties, as well as Vitamin B6, which helps the body make antibodies.
Research supports certain strategies to combat exercise-induced immunosuppression and inflammation, including adequate carbohydrate intake before and during exercise, as well as carbohydrate replacement after exercise. Since 100% OJ is easily digestible, it can help meet carbohydrate needs when paired with pre-workout and post-workout meals and snacks. Add a glass to breakfast before a long run or pair with hard boiled eggs after a lifting session!
Fortified Orange Juice and Bone Health
The health benefits of orange juice for athletes extend well beyond immune function and iron absorption. Choosing Fortified Florida Orange Juice is a great way to get calcium and Vitamin D into your diet to support bone health. Since calcium is important for muscle contractions and there is additional stress on the bones with many activities, adequate intake of this nutrient should be a priority for those with heavy training volume. Research has suggested that adequate vitamin D levels for athletes may be higher than those recommended to the general population.
Many athletes are unaware that low energy availability (when calorie intake isn’t sufficient to support exercise and basic body functions) is an even bigger risk for bone loss and even fracture. Since highly active individuals are more prone to appetite suppression with training, “liquid nutrition” is often recommended to get energy and nutrients in before you feel like solid food. Just another reason to grab 100% OJ throughout the day!
Benefits of Orange Juice After a Workout
While training, your body prefers to use the carbohydrate that’s stored in your muscles (glycogen). It’s the most efficient energy source you have, especially if you want to train at high intensities. At the end of a tough workout, your muscle glycogen is depleted, you’ve lost fluid and electrolytes through sweat, and as mentioned earlier, you go into a short period of immunosuppression.
Waiting just two hours to ingest adequate carbohydrates after training can significantly reduce the amount stored as glycogen. Poor hydration status also affects your cognitive performance the rest of the day, not just physical. We also know getting in enough protein is important post-workout to repair muscle tissue. Clearly your body is in need of fuel to replenish what was lost and recover, but what about that post-exercise appetite suppression? Turn to liquid nutrition!
Florida Orange Juice is naturally sweet, providing the carbohydrates your body needs after training without the added sugars. Plus, with it’s high water content, 100% OJ can help keep you hydrated. When it comes to electrolytes in orange juice, it provides potassium, a crucial mineral that is needed for the heart and muscle function. For intense workouts, especially those lasting over an hour or in the heat, you can easily add between a dash and ⅛ tsp of salt to replace the sodium lost in sweat. Since thirst is satisfied before fluid balance is restored post-training, the delicious flavor of 100% OJ along with the natural carbohydrates and added sodium, may lead to increased fluid intake! Incorporating your Florida OJ into a smoothie or mixing with a third party tested protein powder can offer a complete recovery snack, too.
- There are a variety of health benefits of orange juice for athletes. 100% orange juice offers energy and a variety of essential nutrients that support blood health and immune health.
- Fortified Florida OJ is a convenient way to get calcium, vitamin D, and energy to support bone health and energy needs of athletes.
- Including orange juice after a workout can help restore nutrients lost during training and the electrolytes in orange juice, such as potassium, help support muscle function.