Let’s talk vitamins and minerals! Although supplementation is beneficial to health, the key is nutrient balance through eating a wide variety of organic and nutritious foods! You cannot take vitamins to fight a bad diet, it’s quite the opposite.
Vitamins are substances that help essential body reactions occur. By eating a wide variety and range of different foods, we can be sure to ingest all of the necessary vitamins needed in our diets. There are two different kinds of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble.
Water-soluble vitamins are vitamins B and C. The body has limited storage for these vitamins as they are typically associated with carbohydrate foods (such as the sugars in fruit, breads, cereals, and veggies).
Vitamin B (Thiamin/ 1.1-1.2mg/day)- Found in seeds, legumes, pork, and enriched/fortified grains and cereals. Vitamin B is needed for the metabolism of the three macromolecules – proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and is crucial for the energy and performance demands of athletes.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B12/ 1.1-1.3mg/day)- Aids in normal eye function and healthy skin. Helps with athletic performance in high endurance sports. Found in milk and dairy products. enriched grains, and cereals.
Niacin (14-16mg/day) – Helps with energy reactions and the oxidation of fats and carbohydrates. The amino acid, tryptophan, is a great source as well as, cereals and grains.
Vitamin C (75-90mg/day) – Found in fruits and veggies, especially super citrusy fruits and cherries. It functions as an antioxidant, aids in collagen formation, iron absorption, carnitine synthesis, and norepinephrine synthesis. Athletic performance is increased with vitamin C aid, as an antioxidant, it can be useful in relieving muscle soreness. With that said, vitamin C also has a very low daily required intake of only 75-90mg and most people usually take between 250-500mg per day. Although the toxicity of vitamin C is potentially low, there can be a risk of kidney stones with too much intake.
Fat-soluble vitamins are delivered by fats and oils. Vegetable and cereal oils, milk, nuts, fish, eggs, some legumes, and animal livers, are good sources of these vitamins. There is more storage available for these in the body.
Vitamin A – Helps aid vision, growth, reproduction, immune system function, and healthy skin. Can receive vitamin A from dairy products, egg yolk, and fish.
Vitamin D – Aids in calcium and phosphorus absorption, calcium can not be absorbed without it. Found in milk, exposure to the sun, salmon, and liver. Vitamins D & A and calcium, can be toxic so need to be taken in adequate amounts or consult a physician before use.
Vitamin E – Is a powerful antioxidant that supports immune function. Helps prevent oxidative damage and removes free radicals from the blood. Mainly found in nuts, greens, vegetable oils, and leafy greens.
Vitamin K – Referred to as the anti-hemorrhagic vitamin, as it aids in blood clotting factors. Found primarily in leafy greens. Great for wound healing qualities.
Minerals are inorganic substances that are involved in water balance, energy reactions, acid-base balance, and nerve impulse stimulation.
Calcium (1,000mg/day) – Helps maintain and build structures of bones and teeth, increases blood coagulation (clotting factors), muscle contraction, and acid-base control. It is crucial to fight the onset of osteoporosis and increase bone density, in turn, decreasing risks of bone fracture. Found in orange juice, milk, canned fish, leafy greens, almond milk, and other dairy foods like cheese.
Phosphorus (700mg/day) – Aids in structure of bones and teeth as well. Helps increase energy substrates like ATP, contains many vitamin B coenzymes, which makes that vitamin more productive in producing energy and its substrates. Found in meats, cereals, grains and dairy products.
Iron (8mg/day) – Probably one of the biggest deficiencies in athletes. Iron is crucial for getting and carrying oxygen to cells through hemoglobin (blood) and myoglobin (muscles). The most absorbable iron is found in red meat, poultry, egg yolk, and fish, but it can also be found in spinach, peaches, prunes, apricots, and raisins.
Zinc (8-11mg/day) – Directly linked with immune system support, aids in wound healing, involved with more than 70 enzymes in energy production. Found in seafood, organ meat, meat, yeast, wheat germ, not typically found in many plants.
Magnesium (320-420mg/day) – Aids in protein synthesis, water balance, muscle contraction, and metabolism. Found in meats, whole grain cereals, seeds, and legumes.
The most important part of the vitamin and mineral combination is fluid and hydration. See our last blog post to find out why water is such a crucial element in optimal health.
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Recommended daily intake values found in “ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer”