blog nutrition

Nutrition for the Performing Artist – Musicians, Pt. 2 – Micronutrients

A guest post by Maria Kim, an amazing dietetic intern with the Sodexo Dietetic Internship.

We previously discussed macronutrients in another part of this series of Nutrition for the Performing Artist – Musicians. Here, we will examine how micronutrients help to optimize performance.

Some Important Micronutrients

This section does not encompass all micronutrients, but a few important ones to consider.

Vitamin A 

Vitamin A come in different forms and are involved in immune function, the part of your body that fights infection and vision. Your vision is necessary for reading music sheets. Sweet potatoes, beef liver, spinach, carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe, mangos are some foods rich in Vitamin A. 

Vitamin C

This is an essential vitamin that our bodies cannot make on our own. It is required to make collagen, L-carnitine, and some neurotransmitters. Collagen is essential for connective tissue, including muscles, and plays an important role in wound healing. 

Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C, including red and green peppers, oranges, kiwis, broccoli, strawberries, and grapefruit. 


Zinc is important in maintaining skin integrity and structure and zinc oxide paste is used for soothing and anti-itching. This might be important for string musicians who develop skin dermatitis from the constant friction, pressure, and abrasion that results from pressing and plucking, resulting in cuts, blisters, skin irritation, and infection. Paronychia is an inflammatory disorder of the nail folds that causes redness, tenderness, and swelling which may cause complications when playing the guitar, for example.

Zinc plays a major role in every phase of the wound healing process, so open wounds that occur from playing instruments can benefit from zinc. The Fiddler’s neck, is a chin rest associated contact dermatitis for violin and viola players and studies show correlations with zinc deficiency and dermatitis.

This mineral is also important for your immune system, which may be helpful right before a performance to prevent you from getting sick. Lip swelling can occur from the pressure of forcing air through instrument mouthpieces, and sharing mouthpieces may spread infection-causing pathogens such as staphylococcus aureus and herpes complex virus, so having an adequate amount of zinc in your diet will help prevent or fight off such infection.

Vitamin D and Calcium

These nutrients are essential for adequate bone health. Our bone health will be important to maintain. For brass instrument players, as mentioned earlier, dental health may be compromised, so adequate vitamin D and calcium intake as well as proper dental care will be important. Fortified milk and milk products (such as cheese, yogurt, kefir) and fortified soy milk are good choices as well as egg yolk and liver. 

Magnesium, Potassium, and Sodium

These three minerals function as electrolytes in our bodies. An imbalance of these minerals can cause muscle cramping, which would not be desired especially in the middle of a performance. Instruments such as the violin, viola, and the flute require awkward positioning, making the musician prone to muscle cramping. In addition, adverse performance conditions, such as cramped quarters, poorly designed chairs, improperly placed music stands can also contribute to health risks such as neck, back, and trunk pain. 


Choline is an essential nutrient needed to produced acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter and is important for memory, mood, muscle control – all relevant for musicians. Humans can produce choline in the liver but this amount is not enough to provide for needs completely, therefore, choline must be eaten. Common food sources include meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, cruciferous vegetables, soy and kidney beans, mushrooms, and nuts and seeds. 

So consider these vitamins and minerals the next time you are planning your meals and snacks. Try to include foods that contain these nutrients to help you deliver your best performance!


Harmonize with food,





Cohen PR. Harpist’s Finger: Case Report of a Trauma-Induced Blister in a Beginner Harpist and Review of String Instrument–Associated Skin Problems in Musicians. Cutis. 2008 November;82(5):329-334.
Caero JE, Cohen PR. Fiddler’s neck: Chin rest-associated irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis in a violin player. Dermatology Online Journal. 2012;18(9):10.
Relhan V, Goel K, Bansal S, Garg VK. Management of chronic paronychia. Indian J Dermatol. 2014;59(1):15–20.
Nordqvist J. What are the health benefits of zinc? Medical News Today. Updated December 5, 2017.

West H. The 10 Best Foods That Are High in Zinc. Healthline. Published April 19, 2018. 

National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Updated September 18, 2018.

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin A Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Updated July 9, 2019. 

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Choline Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Updated July 9, 2019.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *