If you’re focused on gaining muscle mass and losing weight in bodybuilding, these are the top ten most essential vitamins and nutrients that you need. These will determine how your body changes through the course of your exercise routine. Make sure that you are getting enough of these in your diet and through supplements.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, also known as retinol, which is primarily responsible for keeping your vision 20/20 because it helps with the development of mucous membranes. But for bodybuilders it’s most noteworthy for enhancing bone growth and strength. For this reason, it’s especially important in the development of adolescents.
You can get vitamin A in carrots--an excellent source which provides more than 600% of your daily recommended needs. Spinach, sweet potatoes, and turnips are also good for this vitamin.
The main purpose of vitamin B1 in the body is to help your body better utilize the carbohydrates that you’re consuming every day, getting the most energy out of this nutrient. But another major benefit of vitamin B1 is to boost the strength of the nervous system and to help with nerve transmission through the cells.
The best places to find vitamin B1 in food are in sunflower seeds, tuna, black beans and lentils.
Also known as riboflavin, vitamin B2 helps breakdown protein, carbohydrates and fat and transforming them into energy. It also supports antioxidants in the body. As a side benefit, it also helps with skin complexion.
The best place in nature to get riboflavin is in liver, which is one reason why most people tend to get it from supplements instead. Milk is also a source of riboflavin--one glass of milk will give you approximately 30% of your daily recommended dose.
Also known as niacin, this is the third B vitamin and it helps with energy production and assists the nervous system. It also is very important to the digestive systems.
You can get most of the vitamin B3 that you need from chicken, but fish such as tuna and halibut are also good, as is turkey breast.
The vitamin that is most commonly associated with boosting the immune system actually has a lot of benefits for exercise and bodybuilding as well, primarily due to its antioxidant properties. Most importantly, it aids in the production and preservation of connective tissues in your cartilage and tendons.
While there are plenty of places you immediately think of to find vitamin C--especially orange juice--produce like brussel sprouts actually pack more of a punch ounce the ounce, as does broccoli, bell peppers and papaya.
Another fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin D is most often known for its connection to sunlight. It helps with the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which means that it’s great at growing strong and healthy bones.
The sun is the best place to get vitamin D, but it’s also found abundantly in milk, as well as some seafood and eggs. Because vitamin D and calcium work so closely together, milk is a great way to get things working in tandem.
This vitamin is an antioxidant that helps the immune system, like vitamin C, but it also helps with blood flow and is especially good at repairing tissues, making it an essential vitamin for bodybuilding.
Vitamin E can be found in sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, spinach and turnip greens. Sunflower seeds are your best bet as on quarter cup gives you 90% of your daily need.
Vitamin K is important in keeping the blood healthy, especially in blood clotting. If you’re low in vitamin K your blood won’t clot quickly and a small cut could be a big problem.
When you think of vitamin K think kale. It’ll give you more than 1000% of your recommended needs. Other greens are also useful, including brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach and romaine lettuce.
Biotin plays an important part in converting the three primary nutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) into energy, which is essential to bodybuilding. It also keeps you looking young, as it helps your skin complexion and prevents (for a while) your hair from turning gray.
Biotin is also essential in producing your red blood supply, and since red blood cells transport oxygen through the body, it’s important for people who are exercise and getting their hearts pumping.
Biotin is hard to find in nature, and so supplements are your easiest choice. It can be found in small amounts in liver, legumes, tomatoes, romaine lettuce and swiss chard, but you need to eat a lot to get a benefit.
Folic acid helps produce and maintain new cells, as well as prevents the changes in DNA that lead to cancer. Folic acid is prescribed as a medication for people with anemia (lack of red blood cells).
Folic acid can be best found in lentils, but beans (both black and pinto) are also good, as is asparagus and spinach.
Five Bonus Nutrients that Are Essential to Bodybuilding
These five nutrients are essential to bodybuilding, but not strictly vitamins. But they’re too important not to share here.
Not only is calcium a source of strong bones and teeth, but it is essential for bodybuilding because it helps muscle contraction and energy metabolism. Some research shows that a lack of calcium will release the hormone calcitrol which causes you to store fat.
Calcium can be found in cheese, milk, yogurt (almost all dairy), as well as almonds, sesame seeds, and sardines.
Iron is an integral part of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to the muscles. It’s important for maintaining high energy levels, and it boosts the immune system.
Iron is found in some dried fruit, bran cereals, and red meat (but especially game like venison).
Selenium makes the list as an essential nutrient for bodybuilding because it impedes free radical damage that you can get from weight training. It also helps with mood, decreasing depression, and can fight cancer and heart disease.
You can find selenium in tuna, sunflower seeds, whole grain breads, and some tree nuts.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are important in your diet because they’re not something that your body can make on its own. These Omega 3s help your heart and improve blood flow, and they also suppress hunger, making it easier to lose weight--so an essential tool in the bodybuilder’s toolkit.
Omega 3s can be found in fish, such as salmon and mackerel, as well as tree nuts and flaxseed oil.
The third most common trace mineral in the body, copper is a key nutrient for bodybuilders because it strengthens the tendons to help lift weights. It also protects the cardiovascular system.
Copper can be found in peanuts and sunflower seeds, as well as crab and sardines.
As you can see, vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients play key roles in maintaining optimal health. They are considered the foundation of your nutritional needs and should be considered the first supplement you purchase when you design your supplement program. SupplementSource.ca has vitamins and minerals as single ingredient purchases or in convenient all-in-one packs. Grab yours today and start your new healthy lifestyle off on the right path.