Altitude

Ascent to altitude can cause a variety of physiologic disturbances due to the drops in temperature and humidity, and the lack of oxygen. Some major concerns are weight loss, disturbances in digestion, nutrient and fluid needs, and Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Adequate nutrition can play a crucial role in maintaining health and performance at altitude.

Energy requirements are 15-50% greater at altitude than at sea level. Virtually everyone who goes to higher altitudes experiences weight loss and loss of muscle mass. At altitudes below 5,000 m weight loss can be prevented by increasing your kcal intakes. Weight loss is inevitable above 5,000 m. To meet the increased energy and fluid needs at altitude follow the guidelines on page 73.

Vitamin and mineral needs are likely to increase at altitude. In particular, the increased metabolic rate and the lack of oxygen can increase the production of harmful free radicals. Preliminary research indicates that taking 400 IU per day of vitamin E, an antioxidant, at high altitude reduces free radical production.

As noted throughout this chapter, meeting energy and fluid requirements are vital to maintain physical performance in adverse environmental conditions. Being physically fit and eating a healthy diet prior to deployment will greatly improve your adaptation to the new environment.

Training and

Overuse Injuries

In this chapter you will learn about:

♦ Treatment and prevention of injuries.

♦ When to seek medical care.

♦ Overtraining syndrome.

One of the hazards of physical training is becoming injured. Sustaining either a sudden injury or an overuse injury can mean loss of work days, forced rest, and pain for a period of days to weeks. The goal of this chapter is not to have you treat your own injuries, but rather to be informed so that you will seek appropriate help when needed.

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