Vitamin A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I….we get it, there’s nearly a full alphabet of vitamins, but why do we actually need them? From the day dot, we’re told to eat our 5 a day to make sure we get enough of these little gems. You can find them everywhere; in pills, powders and everything in between, containing vitamin this and vitamin that. You’ve probably even seen your grandparents popping a few in the morning (well we hope those are vitamins anyway).
Vitamins are actually considered essential. Basically, you and I wouldn’t be here without them. You can find vitamins in loads of different foods, including fruit, vegetables, fish and meat.
But vitamin supplementation in itself is pretty popular in the fitness community. The reason being – we can pack in pretty much every vitamin you would need into a pill. Saving you time, money and of course those dreaded extra calories.
It goes without saying, you can consume the correct amount of vitamins through your food, but it’s extra important to make sure you keep your levels as high as possible especially if you take part in any physical activity. Plus, you’d have to eat a heap load to make sure you got every last one. These convenient capsules have you covered.
Vitamins are extremely important even if you don’t take part in exercise. There are 13 essential vitamins necessary for proper bodily functions like metabolism, building bones, teeth, tissue and even blood, so basically everything. All hail the might vitamins! Unfortunately, as amazing as our bodies are they cant actually produce these vitamins themselves (Fairfield & Fletcher, 2002), other than vitamin D and vitamin K. BOO! But don’t worry, like we’ve talked about they can easily be consumed through food and supplementation.
There are two types of vitamins that we need to consume, water-soluble and fat-soluble. These two sound pretty straight forward and self-explanatory, and well they are a little, but just keep reading and you’ll find out what these mean. So, water-soluble vitamins such as B and C vitamins (Kennedy & Haskell, 2011) are quickly eliminated through our urine, so we must consume these daily to replenish what is lost. Whereas, fat-soluble vitamins take a piggyback ride on the fat we consume to be transported around the body, resulting in them being stored for a limited time in our fat tissue. That little muffin top has some uses. This means that these vitamins are stored longer than the water-soluble vitamins meaning that daily consumption is not necessary (Fairfield & Fletcher, 2002).
Vitamins are a jack of all trade for overall health, but to be specific they all individually have their own benefits for key areas of the body. See below for the Vitamin A-Z list to cast your eyes over. Please bear in mind that these are as a collective. For example, there are 5 different types of B vitamins.
Benefit To The Body
Benefit To The Body
|Contributes to normal iron metabolism, maintenance of skin, vision, our immune system, and has a vital role in the process of cell specialisation.||
|Contributes to normal psychological function, heart function and nervous system function|
|Maintains normal immune system function during and after intense exercise. Contributes to collagen formation of blood vessels, bones, cartilage, gums, skin, teeth and also increases iron absorption||
|Contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism, functioning of the nervous system, maintenance of blood cells, skin, vision, reduces tiredness and fatigue as well as protection of our cells from oxidative stress|
|Contributes to normal blood calcium levels, maintenance of bones, muscle function, teeth, and our immune system. As well as playing a vital role in the process of cell division and the utilisation of calcium.||
|Contributes to energy-yielding metabolism, the functioning of the nervous system, psychological function, mucous membranes, skin and also reduced tiredness and fatigue.|
|Contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress during, before and after physical exercise.||
|Contributes to mental performance, energy-yielding metabolism, normal synthesis and metabolism of steroid hormones, vitamin D and some neurotransmitters as well as reducing tiredness and fatigue.|
|Contributes to normal blood clotting and the maintenance of our bones.||
|Contributes to the functioning of our nervous system, normal macronutrient metabolism, psychological function, maintenance of hair, membranes and skin.|
|Contributes towards red blood cell formation, process of cell division, protein and glycogen metabolism, psychological function, immune system function and the regulation of hormonal activity.||
|Contributes to maternal tissue growth during pregnancy, amino acid synthesis, homocysteine metabolism, blood formation, our immune system, the process of cell division and reduced tiredness and fatigue|
Which Vitamins Should You Take as An Athlete?
Of course the above is more related to general health and the operation of your body, immune system and so forth, but you should consider upping your dosages on certain vitamins if you take part in physical activity.
Vitamin D & Calcium
What Foods are high in Vitamin D & Calcium?
Calcium can be found in basically all dairy products, including; milk, cheese, butter and yoghurt. It can also be found in nuts, green leafy vegetables and fish. Vitamin D is usually taken as a supplement but this can also be found in such foods as fish, cheese, egg yolks and orange juice.
Why supplement Vitamin D?
Vitamin D and calcium have that bromance we all dream of to help your bone health. As a lot of people know calcium helps to keep your bones, teeth and cartilage strong, however, a lot of the calcium we consume does not get fully absorbed. This is where vitamin D plays its part and helps to promote this uptake. Our bodies can actually produce vitamin D from sunlight. Unless you spend your days outside the chance are you won’t be getting enough sunlight for your body to keep your vitamin D levels at their optimal point.
What does a Vitamin D Deficit cause?
Vitamin D deficiency is now a global health problem affecting an estimated 1 billion people worldwide. Due to people working long hours indoors it has become common, especially in countries that are limited to sunlight. Having a deficiency in vitamin D can cause, brittle bones, muscle weakness, changes in mood (often increase of anxiety), hair loss, an increase of blood pressure, Fatigue and tiredness, leading to exhaustion, decreased endurance and even infertility.
What does a Calcium Deficit cause?
A calcium deficiency can often be found in individuals who consume a vegan diet, as for the majority of us, calcium is consumed through dairy products. Having a calcium deficiency can cause muscle problems, such as cramping and spams. It can increase the chances of insomnia which can lead to extreme fatigue and exhaustion, eczema and psoriasis, brittle nails, osteoporosis, dental problems such as weakening roots and irritated gums, as well as brittle bones too.
What Foods are high in Vitamin C?
Vitamin C can easily be found as a supplement but the best way to get this vitamin is through the food you eat. Vitamin C can be found in; citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, mango, pineapple, strawberries, grapefruit and many more.
Why supplement Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is the go-to vitamin for fighting off sickness. You’ve probably heard your parents say to get some vitamin C if you’ve got a cold. As much as you would hate to admit it they’re right. Vitamin C helps to boost our immune system making and with research showing that exercise decreases our immunity (Diment et al. 2015) making sure we get enough of our stuff is vital. After all, more sickness equals more time from the gym which ultimately means fewer gains.
What does a Vitamin C Deficit cause?
Vitamin C deficiency can be rare in developed countries due to having fresh produce available with high vitamin C contents, however, it still does affect a large proportion of the population. A Vitamin C deficiency causes rough and bumpy skin as it plays a large role in collagen production, it can also cause hair loss, dry skin, cause your body to easily bruise, increases the time for wound healing, can cause painful swollen joints, weak bones, tooth loss, poor immunity to infection and disease, fatigue, and unexpected weight gain.
What Foods are high in Iron?
Iron can be found in lots of different foods including; red meat, fish, raisins, lentils, white beans, nuts, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and many more.
Why supplement Iron?
Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen to your muscles. Oxygen transportation is critical for energy production. It’s one of the reasons why when we take part in exercise we get out of breath. It’s our body needing extra oxygen to produce energy so our muscles can contract and move. Research has indicated that regular endurance exercise leads to greater iron loss (Hinton, 2014). To combat this loss the Food and Nutrition board suggests a 30% increase in iron for those who exercise on the regular.
What does a Iron Deficit cause?
Iron consumption is often through meats that we eat, however, for those who are on a vegan diet may struggle to make sure they gain adequate amounts of iron in their diet. An iron deficiency can cause multiple bodily problems such as unusual sudden tiredness, paleness of the skin, shortness of breath, headaches and dizziness, heart palpitations, dry and damaged hair and skin, brittle nails, and more frequent infections.
Potassium & Sodium
What Foods are high in Potassium & Sodium?
Potassium is well known to be found in large quantities in bananas and is often used by athletes to help maintain these levels as well as being delicious and providing a slow release of carbohydrates. Potassium can also be found in potatoes, mushrooms, peas, raisins, oranges and much more. Sodium in a simpler for is salt, so anything with a high salt level will help increase your sodium levels. Foods such as cured meat, bacon, salted nuts and a host of other tasty foods.
Why Supplement Potassium & Sodium?
Potassium is an electrolyte that works with sodium to help maintain calls membranes in our body, which is ultimately our muscle contractions, heart function, and communication through our nervous system. There’s a reason why so many athletes sip on electrolyte drinks during exercise and well this is the reason why. As well as maintaining our cells membranes, potassium and sodium can help restore hydration, maintain muscle ph levels, which reduces the chances of feeling that dreaded cramp.
What does a Potassium Deficit cause?
Potassium deficiency is on the rise due to people now consuming processed foods rather than fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts. Often processed foods have certain minerals stripped out to extend their shelf life or use artificial ingredients that contain no nutritional value at all. A potassium deficiency can cause weakness and fatigue, muscle cramps and spasms, digestive problems, heart palpitations, muscle aches and stiffness, tingling and numbness of muscles, and breathing difficulties.
What does a Sodium Deficit cause?
Sodium deficiencies can often be caused through diet, illness or even sport. Sodium or salt is excreted through our skin when we sweat, so make sure you maintain high levels of sodium is exceptionally important if you take part in sport. A Deficiency in sodium can cause digestive issues, cognitive impairment, muscle cramping and spasms, confusion, seizures, vomiting, loss of energy, and muscle weakness.