Essential Vitamins Athletes Should Take
One rarely equates a multi-vitamin with elite athletic performance. No one sees the Michael Jordans of the world popping a multi-vitamin on a billboard. But, we should.
Not only are essential vitamins essential, *duh*, athletes put their bodies under chronic stresses the average person does not. Because of this, athletes may need more vitamins and more protection.
It can also be the deficiency of these essential vitamins that may be causing your results to be, “meh” versus “YEAHHH”!
Think we’re nuts? Maybe your brain is deficient in an essential vitamin. Just kidding. Or are we?
Vitamins and Athletic Performance
Vitamins are like part of a fuel mix. You know your trimmer that requires a perfect mix of gas and oil and if you don’t get it right, it doesn’t run right? That’s how vitamins work in the body.
They are a vital part of health and performance. And while most people can get them through food, athletes in particular, are at risk for deficiencies because of how much they use their bodies, which puts more demands on the vitamins available.
Deficiencies can affect performance, health and strength.
Most vitamins act as metabolic regulators and they are involved in tons of processes in the body from contracting muscles to thinking. Yeah, try to train for a marathon with a foggy brain. It’s tough.
Vitamins also produce energy, hemoglobin, aid in bone and immune health and maybe most important to an athlete: have antioxidant properties that help protect against oxidative stress that occurs with training.
Athletes, Oxidative Stress and Vitamins, Oh My!
Athletes don’t just use more energy and nutrients. Their bodies are exposed to oxidative stress longer, and chronically.
This is a big problem and likely why you see healthy athletes getting some diseases or dying young.
Oxygen utilization and muscle contraction increases during training which can lead to increased reactive oxygen species, or what we all call ‘free radicals’, being released into the body.
Free radicals are like those insane people who set city shops on fire and turn over cars when their sports team wins. Seriously, they’re unpredictable and can cause a lot of damage.
Free radicals can chance cell structure, impact cell function damage muscle and tissues, compromise the immune system and cause exhaustion—AKA your internal city is officially under riot and on fire.
So, does your body just take the hit or does it have some sort of SWAT defense with plastic shields and tear gas? Oh, it’s got SWAT.
Antioxidants are your body’s SWAT. How do you get em?
If you guessed vitamins—you certainly aren’t deficient in smarts, smarty pants.
Some vitamins are natural antioxidants. They help combat those psychotic free radicals setting your body on fire and creating an environment ripe for getting sick and causing damage.
So, which vitamins do we recommend for athletes?
Recommended Vitamins for Athletes
ALL of them! We recommend all of them, but if we had to choose a few critical vitamins we’d start with:
B vitamins. Man, oh man do these bad boys do some damage to those free radicals and oxidative stress.
But they also help metabolize carbs, fat and protein and help make energy. Um, allll the stuff athletes focus on, right?
Not to mention, some of them, like Vitamins B6 and B12, neurotransmitters that can help you feel more relaxed and focused.
They also help build and repair muscle.
Whaaat? Did you think you were doing all of this on your own? Negative ghostrider, you weren’t.
In addition to energy production, B vitamins help with the building and repairing of muscle tissue. Does it get better?
Why yes, yes it does.
Let’s break down the good B vitamins and tell you about the rest.
Vitamin B1 | Thiamin
Thiamine is a coenzyme that helps in the production of fatty acids, steroids and brain compounds. It also influences energy metabolism. Deficiency causes fatigue.
Vitamin B2 | Ribovflavin
B2 is also a coenzyme which means it’s necessary to form other things. It plays roles in energy, cell function and development, fat metabolism and steroid production.
Vitamin B3 | Niacin
Niacin aids in fat metabolism and increases car utilization by the body. It also aids in retaining muscle glycogen for energy.
Pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5 is needed to metabolize carbs, fats and proteins.
This B vitamin is important for immune system health, brain and nerve health and helps prevent and improve injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, some hormone driven conditions, arthritis and depression.
Vitamin B7 is involved in allllll kinds of stuff. It plays a role in glucogenesis, fatty acid synthesis, the making of isoleucine and valine, and helps make coenzyme A which is like magic in figurative beaker.
B12 is used to fight fatigue. Adrenal fatigue in particular. Aside from energy, it improves mood, memory, skin, hair, heart and digestion.
Now that we’ve made it through the B vitamins, let’s move onto the next class, probably the most important of all for the oxidative stress athletes face: Antioxidants.
Training causes a release of free radicals in your body which can cause TONS of damage. We are talking about altering cell function in the body. It can change carbs, fats, proteins and acids in your body—the amount, the shape, the function, the location. Essentially, free radicals can cause damage that can cause conditions in the body that make it ripe for terrible things like cancer, insulin resistance, heart problems and death.
WOAH—things just got serious.
Yep, free radicals will do that to you.
Free radicals are a natural byproduct of a lot of processes in the body, and training can expose you to chronic oxidative stress and free radicals that can put you at risk for health problems.
So, what can you do? Athlete or not—make sure you’re armed with antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and protect you from their damage.
Antioxidant ALL THE THINGS!
Vitamin C is critical to fight off the free radicals, protect the immune system, aid in cortisol synthesis and collagen production.
Vitamin E also fights free radicals, regulates cholesterol, balances hormones and repairs skin.
While there are TONS more antioxidants we recommend, we’re only covering essential vitamins in this class, grasshoppa.
Vitamin D was required for me to type this sentence. Yep, it impacts muscle contractions, the things that make an athlete “GO”. Vitamin D is needed for muscle growth and contraction. It also helps maintain type II muscle fibers needed for powerful movements.
Finally, Vitamin K helps with heart health, bone health, blood clotting, metabolism and brain function.
Get a Multi-Vitamin with the Essentials to Improve Performance and Protect Your Health
Because of the energy infusing benefits of the B vitamins, paired with the antioxidant power of the C and E vitamins coupled with the growth and health properties of D &K, these vitamins are our “must have” essential vitamins for athletes.
But, these aren’t all we recommend, there is a specific list of other phytonutrients and minerals your body needs as an athlete to stay healthy, energized and protected. And, there is a specific form that is most effective.
Find out what they are by stopping back or following our page here.
Until then–stay fit and informed, friend.