Top 10 Most Important Vitamins for Bodybuilders

Cobalamin (vitamin B12)
Although the functions of vitamin B12 are numerous, those important to bodybuilders include carbohydrate metabolism and maintenance of nervous system tissue (the spinal cord and nerves that carry signals from the brain to muscle tissues). Stimulation of muscles via the nervous system is a critical step in the contraction, coordination and growth of muscles.
Vitamin B12 is available only from foods of animal origin. Therefore, for athletes following a strict vegetarian diet it is imperative to consult a physician about vitamin B12 supplements. In fact, B12 shots are quite popular with athletes, even with non-vegetarians, who believe it improves performance.

Biotin has critical functions in aminoacid metabolism and in the production of energy. It’s also the one vitamin bodybuilders have trouble in maintaining an adequate supply, because a substance called Avidin, available in the white of raw eggs, blocks Biotin. In fact, bodybuilders who eat raw egg whites may experience growth problems due to Biotin deficiency.

Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
Riboflavin generates energy in three areas: glucose metabolism, oxidation of fatty acids and shuttling of hydrogen ions through the Krebs cycle. This vitamin is somewhat related to protein metabolism. In fact, there is a strong relationship between lean body mass and dietary Riboflavin.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A helps with vision, but bodybuilders are also familiar with its other benefits. First of all, vitamin A is important in the synthesis of protein, the chief process of muscle growth. Second, vitamin A is directly responsible for the production of Glycogen, the body’s storage form of energy for high intensity performance.
The issue with vitamin A in bodybuilders is twofold. First, most diets are often quite low in vitamin A. Second, both strenuous physical activity (which disrupts the absorption of vitamin A) and a low fat diet jeopardize the level of vitamin A in the body.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, meaning it protects the cells membranes. This is important because many of the metabolic processes that take place in the body, including the recuperation and growth of muscle cells, are dependent on the health of cell membranes.
Antioxidants are very popular nowadays and research continues to validate their importance. Specifically, antioxidants help to reduce the number of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are natural byproducts of cellular respiration, but accumulation of free radicals can lead to cellular changes and destruction (even cancer), making the cells unable to adapt normally.

Niacin (vitamin B3)
This vitamin creates energy in nearly 60 metabolic processes and has critical importance in providing training fuel to the body. Even if a diet is low in Niacin, the body extracts it from the amino acid tryptophan, abundant in turkey meat. Bodybuilders know it in the the form of nicotine acid, which causes dilation and may help a professional bodybuilder look more vascular onstage. But athletes don’t use it during training, as large doses of nicotinic acid (50 – 100 mg) significantly impair the body’s ability to mobilize and burn fat.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the absorption of Calcium and Phosphorus. Calcium is necessary for muscular contraction. If the muscle doesn’t have an adequate store of Calcium, it can’t sustain full and hard  contractions. Of course, Calcium is important to the integrity of bones, which must support increased muscle tissue and provide an anchor during muscular contraction. Phosphorus helps provide quick, powerful muscular contractions, which comprise the majority of movements during weight training. Phosphorus also synthesizes ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), the high energy molecule used by muscle cells during contraction.

Thiamine (vitamin B1)
Thiamine is one of the vitamins that impacts protein metabolism and growth. It’s also involved in the formation of hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body (especially working muscles). The transport of oxygen is critical to athletic performance and becomes even more important as intensity and duration of exercise increase.
Thiamine is one of the few vitamins that enhances performance when supplemented. Also Thiamine requirements appear to be directly related to caloric expenditure. The more an athlete exercises, the more intensity and duration will increase, and the more Thiamine will be needed.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Protein metabolism, growth and carbohydrate utilization are all made possible in part by the presence of vitamin B6. Like Thiamine, studies on Pyridoxine in athletic performance show a definite increased need for athletes and possible performance enhancement from supplementation. Vitamin B6 is the only vitamin that impacts protein intake. More proteins an athlete eats, more Pyridoxine is needed.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Ascorbic acid has proven itself to be valuable to bodybuilders in many ways. First, vitamin C is an antioxidant, protecting muscle cells from free radical damage, thus enhancing recovery and growth. Second, Ascorbic acid influences aminoacid metabolism, especially the formation of Collagen. Collagen is the primary constituent of connective tissue, which is what holds bones and muscles together. If the connective tissue is not as healthy and strong as it should be (a problem steroid users face), risk of injury dramatically increases.
Also, vitamin C helps in the absorption of iron. Iron is necessary to help oxygen bind to hemoglobin in blood. Without adequate oxygen transportation in blood, muscles lack precious oxygen and therefore perform less. Ascorbic acid also assists in the formation and release of steroid hormones, including the anabolic hormone Testosterone.
Finally, vitamin C is perhaps the most water-soluble vitamin of all. Since a muscle cell is mostly water, the more muscular an athlete becomes, the more vitamin C disperses and the lower the concentration of this critical substance becomes in body tissues. So vitamin C requirements are greatly increased for bodybuilders.

Bodybuilders are notorious for overlooking these key components of growth and performance. Therefore, it is important to analyze the diet to ensure all these vitamins are available. A very balanced diet in terms of calories and fats would be useless if these 10 vitamins are not found in it.

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