The Joyful Athlete Secret Cure for Jock Itch (and Low Energy)

“Tired Man,”, József Somogyi, Makó, Hungary. Before I discovered these supplements I knew exactly how he feels. Source: Wikimedia Commons
“Tired Man,”, József Somogyi, Makó, Hungary. Before I discovered these supplements I knew exactly how he feels. Source: Wikimedia Commons

You feel like you’re running in deep sand. Wearing hip waders. Pulling an anchor.

Your training’s sound, your diet’s fine, you’re sleeping well, and you aren’t stressed.

What gives?

Sometimes it’s the tiny things that can get you.

For me, it was measured in micrograms.

I was deficient in vitamin B12 and iron – both essential for generating energy.

I also suspected – and later confirmed – that my thyroid and adrenals were sluggish.

Happily, I found excellent remedies for all three conditions.

Fixing Iron Deficiency

I had the classic symptoms of “tired blood”: poor energy and a stretched-out, wan, colorless feeling.

I stumbled on an article about the diet of the Ethiopian elites. The author credited their successes partly to their diet, which includes teff, a grain that’s unusually iron-rich.

When I started having teff pancakes for breakfast, my energy came roaring back.

A problem with teff is that it’s packed with carbs – so unless you’re running 140-mile weeks, eating teff-cakes on a regular basis, prepared with banana, pecans, and maple syrup (as they should be eaten) will quickly help you set a body mass index PR.

But I resisted taking iron supplements because they make my stomach queasy.

In search of a solution, I got on the bike and rode over to Country Sun Natural Foods in Palo Alto, where Randi, the manager of the store’s vast supplements department, told me, “When the girls on the Stanford cross-country and track teams experience low energy, their coach sends them to us.

“I give them this stuff.” Randi handed me a box of Nature’s Plus Hema-Plex. “They never need to buy more than one box, because it puts them back on their feet until they can get their diet fixed.”

Since I started taking a single Hema-Plex pill in the morning, I’ve felt fine.

NOTE: The usual cautions for taking iron supplements apply. Iron in excess is very dangerous, even life-threatening.

The standard tests for iron deficiency are advised. Your doctor can tell you if you’re among the rare individuals whose bodies store excess iron, greatly increasing the dangers associated with supplementation.

Real Salt

RealSalt26oz1This isn’t deficiency-related, but I think it’s worth mentioning.

Real Salt is extraordinary. Compared to most “natural sea salt,” it’s miles ahead in taste and potency.

When I tried Real Salt, I knew I was experiencing salt for the first time.

It takes less Real Salt to flavor a dish – a small pinch is plenty for an omelet, one or two pinches for a large bowl of salad. The flavor is incomparable. You might think “salt is salt.” But Real Salt is unique – it tastes richer and more full-flavored than other salts.


I’m pals with Marcel Hernandez, a first-generation Cuban-American who’s a naturopathic physician here in Mountain View.

In his youth, Marcel submitted a screenplay to a writers’ contest. A professor from Stanford read it and offered him a full scholarship on the strength of his talent. Marcel is a sharp guy.

Years ago, I told Marcel I was training for an ultramarathon.

He advised, “Better load up on zinc.”

Running long distances depresses the immune system. A study found that 20 percent of the finishers at the Los Angeles marathon got sick within two weeks after the race.

Taking zinc can alleviate the immune-weakening effects of running crazy distances.

The trouble is, like iron, most zinc supplements make you feel like puking – they are seriously nausea-causing. It’s why the labels suggest taking zinc with a meal.

Opti-zinc is a lot less barf-inducing. I can take a capsule with a small meal and a glass of water and stay upchuck-free.

Opti-zinc isn’t a brand name – it’s the generic name for zinc monomethionine. From

“In zinc monomethionine, zinc is organically bound to a sulfur containing essential amino acid- Methionine. This provides a soluble, readily absorbable and easily retained source of zinc.”

Since I started taking a single Solaray OptiZinc 30mg cap every day, I’ve had fewer problems with colds and bronchitis after hard exercise.

Adrenal Support

Adrenal insufficiency is common in the aged. I’ve found two supplements that help me jack-up my adrenals: maca powder and licorice root powder. Both are known adrenal support standbys.

I take a half-teaspoon of maca in the a.m., and a teaspoon of licorice root powder every 2-3 days. I put the licorice powder in the blender with 1-2 handfuls of raw almonds, unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze, dates or stevia, and a tablespoon of frozen pineapple juice.

If I plan to ride the bike hard, I’ll drink the smoothie 1½ hours before the start, and I’ll include a third of a Clif Bar “Kit’s Organic” Lemon Vanilla Chia Seeds bar. The Clif chia bars will put the tiger in your tank, no doubt. They’re an endurance athlete’s dream. I’ve found no better fuel for my hard efforts.

Adding these supplements has closed some serious energy gaps in my exercise program, allowing me to go like blazes on the bike at age 73.

And finally, as promised…

The Joyful Athlete Secret Surefire Remedy for Jock Itch

UPDATE: In the long run, I found coconut oil to be much less effective than a product that I discovered during a five-day stay in the hospital for cellulitis. It is Sween 24 Once a Day Moisturizing Body Cream. Phenomenal stuff. Try as I will, I cannot incite crotch itch even during long bike rides when I slather with this goo in the morning. The active ingredient is Dimethicone, 6%. I believe it is fairly common in cosmetic ointments; it contains lots of other stuff with long chemical names to drive the crotch bugs away.

Organic unrefined coconut oil.

That’s it. Nothing to see here, move along.

Coconut oil works better than the over-the-counter and prescription antifungal and antibiotic meds. Why? No clue. Perhaps because of its known antibacterial properties. Best price I’ve found is $5.99 for a 16-oz. bottle at Trader Joe’s.

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