Below we are going to discuss 10 essential vitamins for bodybuilders. While commonly on this website we’ll talk about protein, creatine, carbs, steroids, we don’t often talk enough about the essential vitamins that can make a HUGE difference in our lives! This is what I plan to discuss in further details below.
The reason I did this article is that it genuinely seems to me like so many young bodybuilders are overlooking the importance of vitamins in their daily lives.I guess the supplement industry is to blame there. I mean, come on. it just doesn’t sound as good as “Take this Creatine Xtreme 5000!!! It will add 50lbs of mass and melt the fat off you!” No, vitamins are never advertised like that. Though a lack of vitamins can lead to lack of progression, poor sleep, poor muscle building, and just feeling down right terrible!
I’ve noticed on the forums that there are hundreds of topics related to protein and creatine, but very few regarding vitamins. So with that being said, I decided to do this article about the 10 most important vitamins for bodybuilders.
Why vitamins and minerals are important:
During strenuous physical activity, an enormous amount of vitamins and minerals are depleted from our bodies.
Making sure our bodies have enough vitamins and minerals helps maintain and improve proper health.
Failure to maintain healthy vitamin and mineral levels can lead to hindered performance in the gym, slowing down growth, and in severe cases, also lead to other health problems.
Let’s start with number 10. Cobalamin (vitamin B12)
What does this vitamin do? Well Carbohydrate metabolism and maintenance of nervous system tissue (spinal cord, nerves that carry signals from the brain to muscle tissue).
The stimulation of muscles via the nerve cells is a critical step in the contraction, coordination, and growth of muscles.
Now it’s worth noting to get B12 without supplementing it is only available from foods of animal origin (beef, chicken, fish, pork, etc.) Unlike many vitamins found in vegetables this one is found in better quantity in meats.
Number 9. Biotin
Well this is a Critical vitamin in aiding amino acid metabolism and of course the production of energy from numerious sources.
Bodybuilders who tend to eat raw egg whites gain a substance called Advin, which blocks biotin absorption! Yep. So if you are one of those eating raw egg whites you COULD be preventing yourself from absorbing biotin!
Some great sources of biotin include: egg yolk, liver, kidney, pancreas, milk, and barley.
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
Riboflavin finds it’s self heavily Involved in 3 main processes: 1) Glucose metabolism, 2) Oxidation of fatty acids, and 3) The shuttling of Hydrogen through the Krebs cycle (also known as the citric acid cycle where certain molecules are broken down into energy in the form of ATP).
Now for most bodybuilding purposes, riboflavin is related to protein metabolism. There is a strong relationship between lean body mass and dietary riboflavin.
Where can I get more Riboflavin? Well some foods such as the ones I’ll mention now are very rich in riboflavin: liver, almonds, soy nuts, shellfish, milk and other dairy products, and eggs.
- Vitamin A
What can Vitamin A do? Well for one thing it is proven to help with vision. and it is extremely important in the synthesis of protein (muscle growth).
Not only this but it’s also Involved in the production of Glycogen (the body’s preferred form of energy for high intensity activities).
Am I done? Nope, it’s also very important for contest preparation.
What foods provide vitamin A? Nearly all dairy products especially milk. it is found in extremely high doses in milk.
- Vitamin E
Well this one is used in protection of cell membranes since it is a powerful antioxidant.
It’s also used in the Recuperation and growth of muscle cells is dependant on healthy cell membranes.
Where is it found? Vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and fortified cereals are the most common food sources of vitamin E. (Nuts and green leafy vegetables would be the IDEAL places to get these more than the others. Keep that in mind)
- Niacin (vitamin B3)
Well this one is actually involved in nearly 60 metabolic processes related to energy production.
It’s Nicotine acid, which is actually a form of Niacin that tends to cause vasodilatation which can help competitors looks more vascular on stage. Large doses of Nicotine acid drastically impairs the body’s ability to mobilize and burn fat, so it’s important to keep levels inline!
Where can I get it? Dietary sources include: turkey meat (the body uses the amino acid tryptophan to create Niacin), dairy products, poultry, fish, lean meats, nuts, and eggs.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is probably one of the most important vitamins of them all. It’s necessary in the absorption of Calcium and of course Phosphorus. If adequate stores of Calcium are not available in the muscle, full and hard muscular contractions will not be achieved.
What does it do? Basically it provides quick, powerful muscular contractions. These are provided by Phosphorus. Phosphorus is also required for the synthesis of ATP.
Where can I get it? Dietary sources: No-fat or low fat MILK. Sunlight!.
- Thiamine (vitamin B1)
Notice there’s a lot of B vitamins here? Yes, they are important. What’s it required for? Required for protein metabolism and of course growth.
What’s it involved in you ask me? It’s involved in the formation of hemoglobin which is a protein found in red blood cells that transports oxygen to working muscles in the body.
It’s also Oxygen transportation becomes increasingly more important to athletic performance as intensity and duration of exercise increase. As the amount of exercise, intensity, and duration of exercise increase, the more thiamine is needed.
Where can I get it? Dietary sources: Green peas, Spinach, Liver, Beef, Pork, Navy beans, Nuts, Pinto beans, Bananas, Soybeans, Goji berries, Whole-grain and Enriched Cereals, Breads, Yeast,the aleurone layer of unpolished rice, and Legumes.
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
This vitamin is extremely unique in that it is the only vitamin directly tied to protein intake. The greater protein consumption, the greater amount of vitamin B6 you need.
Vitamin B6 makes it possible for protein metabolism, growth and carbohydrate utilization to take place.
Where can you get it? Dietary sources: Avocados, nuts, liver, chicken, fish, green beans, field salad, wheat germ, nutritional yeast, sea vegetables, and bananas are particularly good food sources.
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
This one Enhances recovery and growth in muscle cells. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant.
Involved in the formation of Collagen, the primary constituent in connective tissue (connective tissue holds your bones and muscles together). As you lift heavier weights, you put more stress on your structure. If your connective tissue is not as strong as it should be you have a much higher risk of injury.
Helps in the absorption of Iron. With an Iron deficiency, the amount of oxygen that gets bonded to hemoglobin in the blood decreases and muscular performance is greatly reduced.
Diffuses very rapidly in water. 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.
Finally: Vitamin C assists in the formation and release of steroid hormones, including the anabolic hormone testosterone.
Dietary sources: The largest sources of vitamin C are present in citrus fruits and fruit juices.
Well there you have it, I hope this article has helped show the importance of a good multi vitamin and making sure you get enough of the esssential vitamins. I’ve labelled this article the 10 most important vitamins for a bodybuilder.
If you are a bodybuilder, and bulking you will probably be eating a lot anyway, but what you need to remember is it’s better to eat a lot of the right foods and getting as much of the right nutrients as possible. This can be the difference from benching 200lbs to 350, or squatting 600lbs etc. When bulking getting all of these vitamins in your diet shouldn’t be problem, however, if you feel your diet needs some help there are many multivitamins which you can supplement along with your meals, but I always recommend you get your vitamins from natural sources. You may however, want to consider in investing in a simple vitamin C supplement based purely on how important it is in the bodybuilding world.