The role of vitamins and minerals in sports
General concepts about vitamins and minerals

Good nutrition is one of the best investments you can make in your good health and longevity. A healthy diet not only helps to achieve optimal health but also increases your ability to exercise physically and mentally. Choosing a healthy lifestyle, you will take an important step towards achieving and maintaining optimal health of your body, as well as reduce the risk of diseases associated with diet.

There is no single magic formula to ensure good health, but there are key factors, among which are regular exercise, relaxation and a balanced diet.

The first thing you need to realize when learning the principles of balanced nutrition is that (in addition to the well-known basic macro- and microelements), different foods also contain a variety of useful phytonutrients (chemicals or plant compounds that do not belong to vitamins and minerals) . That is why it is so important to diversify your diet, especially foods containing vitamins and minerals.

All the most important life processes in our body take place with the participation of vitamins and minerals. Moreover, the body itself is not able to independently produce them, so we must daily receive vitamins and minerals with the foods we use or from food additives. Unfortunately, the not very high quality of modern products leads to the fact that we do not get the right amount of vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins and minerals play an important role at many stages of our lives, and for those involved in sports – they are especially important! Any person participating in sporting events needs additional vitamins and minerals, because sports training greatly exhaust our body.

So why is it so important for athletes to get the necessary dose of vitamins daily?

Even a nutritionally balanced protein-carbohydrate-lipid composition, together with intensive training, will not be able to help build a muscular, powerful body in the absence of vitamins. First, vitamins play a huge role in the formation of protein – it needs almost all known vitamins (without vitamins, it is not feasible to convert substances that enter the body into structural compounds to increase muscle). Secondly, active training speeds up the metabolism – as a result of which the intake of vitamins should be systematically supplied in sufficient quantities. Thirdly, athletes often sit on diets of uniform composition, into which it is impossible to introduce a sufficient amount of the same fruits.

To fill the lack of vitamins in the bodies of athletes can only sports vitamin and mineral complexes . They are optimally suitable for athletes, as they contain special dosages and are balanced in such a way as to satisfy the needs of the body precisely during active training. It is important to remember that in addition to vitamins and minerals, the athlete’s body also needs other components, among which special amino acids for athletes play an important role.

Vitamins in Sports

In the human body, vitamins work mainly as “coenzymes” – substances that increase the activity of enzymes, through which most chemical processes, including protein synthesis, are carried out. In bodybuilding, vitamins are of great importance, since the formation of contractile protein and muscle growth requires almost all representatives of this class of essential substances. Like coenzymes, vitamins are components of the activity of many enzymes – in their absence, the enzymes of the body will not be able to fulfill their function. You cannot build muscle if yourthe body will not be able to turn the substances entering it into those treasured elements from which the muscles are built. Scientists say that in bodybuilding and any other sports, the need for vitamins is increasing, as the metabolism of athletes proceeds at higher speeds compared to ordinary people. When performing exercises, the consumption of vitamins can increase by 1.5 -2 times, which is why athletes need vitamins in even greater quantities than people in everyday life.

What vitamins to take?

All vitamins are divided into 2 types: fat-soluble and water-soluble . The first type of vitamins is deposited in fatty tissues and can become toxic with a large accumulation in the body. As a result, it is important to monitor the dosage of these vitamins, in addition, they do not always need to be taken daily. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K. Water-soluble vitamins are almost insoluble in fats and, therefore, do not accumulate in the body (except for vitamin B12, which is deposited in the liver). Therefore, these vitamins are not toxic – even with increased doses of water-soluble vitamins, their excess is removed from the body naturally, along with urine. Water-soluble vitamins must be ingested DAILY! Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and all B vitamins.

The most significant vitamins for athletes:

• Vitamin C is the most powerful stimulant of anabolism, an antioxidant. Functions:

– plays an important role in providing oxygen to organs and tissues;

– necessary for the normal absorption of glucose and the formation of glycogen stores in the liver;

– participates in the synthesis of steroid hormones, in the regulation of blood coagulability, in metabolism (in particular protein);

– provides not only the formation of the main substance of the connective tissue, but also the synthesis of its main component – collagen, thereby preventing such undesirable effects as damage to the bones, teeth and walls of capillary vessels.

In addition, bodybuilders successfully use it for hypovitaminosis, for the prevention and treatment of colds and infectious diseases.

The best natural sources of vitamin C are: citrus fruits, berries, sweet potatoes, simple potatoes, rose hips, green vegetables, tomatoes, cauliflower, and dietary supplements .

• Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – a participant in all processes of muscle tissue growth, it is necessary for the absorption of proteins and fats, regulates the state of the nervous system. It enters the body with food, is partially synthesized by intestinal microflora and regulates the most important metabolic processes. It interacts well with vitamins B12 and B9. It is excreted 8 hours after ingestion and as all B vitamins should be replenished. With severe physical exertion, low temperature, vibration and other negative external influences, the need for vitamin B6 increases by 2 times. Contained: in the liver, bananas, tuna, poultry, soy, eggs, avocados, peanuts, as well as dietary supplements .

• Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – is urgently needed by athletes, as it promotes growth and improves the digestion of food, especially carbohydrates. It also improves mental abilities, normalizes the functioning of the nervous system, muscles and heart. With a lack of thiamine, the absorption of carbohydrates does not occur, in addition, the products of the intermediate metabolism of carbohydrates (toxic compounds) accumulate in the body. To ensure a more effective result, it is necessary to balance the doses of vitamins B1, B2 and B6.

The best natural sources of vitamin B1 are: dry yeast, rice husk, whole wheat, oatmeal, peanuts, pork, most vegetables, bran, milk, legumes, and dietary supplements .

• Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – a powerful antioxidant, is involved in almost all types of metabolism (protein, fat and carbohydrate). He is able to provide good vision, normalize the condition of the skin, mucous membranes, hair and nails, and also takes part in the synthesis of hemoglobin. In bodybuilding, vitamin B2 is used not only for the prevention of hypovitaminosis during periods of high psychophysical stress, but also for the treatment of overstrain and anemia, as it accelerates recovery processes and protects against overstrain. With its deficiency, the whole metabolism as a whole suffers. The best natural sources of vitamin B2: milk, liver, kidneys, yeast, cheese, leafy green vegetables, fish, eggs, asparagus, broccoli, yogurt, as well as dietary supplements .

• Vitamin B3 (niacin) – is involved in more than sixty metabolic processes that extract energy. A powerful vasodilator, its effect is mainly directed to the superficial vessels. It is found in rye bread, buckwheat, beans, meat, liver, kidneys, nuts, yeast, legumes, tuna, and dietary supplements .

• Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), on the one hand, is ingested with food, but on the other hand, it is also synthesized by the intestinal microflora. It is an essential factor for the normal growth, hematopoiesis and development of the epithelium, and is also involved in fat and carbohydrate metabolism. A person can receive vitamin B12 primarily with animal food, including meat (especially with the liver and kidneys), fish, eggs and dairy products, or with dietary supplements .

• Vitamin D – helps to absorb phosphorus and calcium, elements important for muscle contraction. Lack of this vitamin leads to fatigue and reduced stamina. Sources are: butter, cheese and other dairy products, egg yolk, fish oil, caviar, alfalfa, horsetail, nettle, parsley, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, and dietary supplements . Another source is solar radiation, even if it is only 10-15 minutes per day.

• Vitamin E is an antioxidant. He has no substitute during intense training – he regulates muscle fatigue, and improves protein metabolism, and also affects the functioning of the sex glands, providing the athlete with testosterone, and also ensures the optimal functioning of the circulatory system. It is found in vegetable and butter, greens, milk, eggs, liver, meat, spinach, nuts, as well as dietary supplements .

• Vitamin A(retinol) – a fat-soluble vitamin, an antioxidant. In the body, its reserves remain long enough not to replenish its reserves every day. There are two forms of this vitamin: it is ready-made vitamin A (retinol) and provitamin A (carotene), which in the human body is converted to vitamin A, so it can be considered a plant form of vitamin A. Vitamin A is involved in redox processes, regulation of protein synthesis , promotes normal metabolism, the function of cell and subcellular membranes, plays an important role in the formation of bones and teeth, as well as fat deposits; necessary for the growth of new cells, slows down the aging process. The best natural sources of vitamin A: fish liver oil (fish oil), eggs, milk, margarine and yellow fruits, liver, carrots, green and yellow vegetables, and dietary supplements.

• Vitamin H (biotin) – plays a large role in amino acid metabolism. It supplies muscles with energy. It is found in the liver, kidneys, yeast, legumes (soy), cauliflower, nuts (peanuts), eggs, milk, and dietary supplements .

The most productive is the combined use of vitamins: with it, the interaction of individual vitamins occurs, that is, the simultaneous effect on several biochemical processes.

A similar interaction is noted, for example, with a combination of the following vitamins:

B1, B2 and B3;

B1, B2, B6 and C;

B12, B6 and C.

Minerals in sports

Minerals are substances of inorganic origin, which means that they are not produced by animals and plants. Since the body is unable to produce any mineral substances on its own, it is forced to receive them with food. Minerals are essential for muscle contraction, blood coagulation, protein synthesis and cell membrane permeability, play a vital role in complex biochemical metabolism in humans, entering into a number of enzymes, coenzymes and hormones. They provide nerve conduction, muscle contraction, water-electrolyte balance and energy production, which is important in sports. Many minerals also act as building blocks of the tissues of the human body. For example, calcium and phosphorus are part of the bone tissue, and zinc is involved in the synthesis of testosterone.

The tissues of our body contain fluid both inside the cells (intracellular fluid) and in the intercellular space (extracellular fluid). Minerals (electrolytes), electrically charged minerals or ions are dissolved in both liquids. Minerals work in concert, regulating water balance on both sides of cell membranes. Minerals also contribute to muscle contraction by providing signaling across the cell membranes of nerve tissue. Electrolyte balance is necessary to maintain normal health and achieve optimal athletic performance. The two main electrolytes are sodium and potassium. Sodium regulates the intercellular fluid balance, and potassium regulates the fluid balance inside the cells.

All mineral substances present in our body can be divided into macroelements and microelements.

Macronutrients – mineral substances contained in the body in relatively large quantities, these are: iron, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, chlorine.

Trace elements – mineral substances contained in the body in relatively small quantities, these are: zinc, manganese, copper, fluorine, chromium, nickel, cobalt and others.

Antioxidants are the body’s natural defense against the harmful effects of free radicals. Antioxidants include vitamins such as C and E, as well as other vitamin-like compounds such as carotenoids (alpha and beta carotenes), lycopene and lutein, as well as trace elements such as selenium . The function of these compounds is not limited to their antioxidant properties, however, today this is considered the basis of their beneficial effects.

Mineral Rating for Athletes:

Sodium . Sodium salts are important components for the electrolysis (energy transfer) process in the body. As a result of sports training and excessive sweating, the body loses sodium. In order to replenish the supply of this mineral in the diet of sports nutrition, it is recommended to include special additives with sodium (best of all sports drinks ), as well as tomato juice and salinity.

Potassium . The body loses potassium salts similarly to sodium salts. The greatest amount of this mineral is found in fruits, vegetables, milk, meat. Do not neglect the special sodium-containing supplements for sports nutrition.

Zinc and magnesium . These trace elements can increase the concentration of anabolic hormones. Zinc functions: the formation of protein, the ability to smell and taste, the healing of wounds. Therefore, it is very important to include supplements containing these minerals in sports nutrition . Sources: meat, fish, poultry, cereals, soy. But do not forget that in large quantities, zinc and magnesium are toxic to the body.

Selenium . Antioxidant. This element is involved in the secretion of hormones and its deficiency in the body affects the mental state, can provoke a decline in mood and even depression. Selenium increases the protective function of the body in the fight against the accumulation of free radicals. Therefore, together with a group of products containing antioxidants, it is worth adding selenium to the diet of sports nutrition. Sources: meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, broccoli, rice, Brazil nuts, crabs, as well as dietary supplements .

Calcium . The most important component of sports nutrition for bodybuilders. Functions: bone and swelling surgery, muscle activity, blood coagulation, transmission of nerve impulses. A long-term deficiency leads to osteoporosis (softness, bone porosity), an excess can be the cause of kidney stones and delayed absorption of iron and magnesia. Sources: dairy products, vegetables, broccoli, salmon, sardines. Calcium can be included in the diet as a special dietary supplement , supplemented with natural dairy products. It is important to remember that calcium is best absorbed with magnesium and vitamin D3.

Iron . It is an integral part of hemoglobin, complex iron-protein complexes and a number of enzymes that enhance the processes of respiration in cells. Iron is included in the structure of cytochromes, which are involved in the processes of accumulation of energy released during the final stages of biological oxidation. With iron deficiency, pronounced symptoms of anemia appear. Sources: beef and pork liver, beef tongue, meat of turkey, rabbit, poultry , oat and buckwheat, beans, in fruit and berry crops – in peaches and blueberries, as well as dietary supplements .

Iodine . It is very important, as it participates in the regulation of protein, fat, water-electrolyte metabolism, as well as in the formation of the thyroid hormone – thyroxine. With a deficiency, an increase in the production of thyroid hormones, the formation of goiter, drowsiness, swelling, and high cholesterol are observed. Sources: spinach, shrimp, crustaceans, zucchini, soy , as well as dietary supplements .

Manganese . Manganese is important for reproductive functions and normal functioning of the central nervous system. With a lack of manganese, the processes of ossification in the entire skeleton are disrupted, the tubular bones thicken and shorten, the joints are deformed. Reproductive function is impaired. Sources: nuts, pineapple, avocado, eggs, blueberries, shellfish, as well as dietary supplements .

Copper . Participates in hematopoiesis, synthesis of collagen, skin enzymes, in pigmentation processes. Promotes the proper absorption of iron. With a lack of copper in the body there are: anemia, hair depigmentation, partial baldness, loss of appetite, decreased hemoglobin level, atrophy of the heart muscle. Sources: beans, nuts, whole grains, mushrooms, as well as dietary supplements .

Chrome . The usual diet of an average person practically does not contain this element. Chromium must be included in sports nutrition, since chromium increases the sensitivity of muscle cell receptors to insulin, an important anabolic hormone. Good sources of chromium are broccoli, unpolished rice, pork and dietary supplements .

Molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, boron . This group of microelements is rather considered secondary, but no less important in rational sports nutrition. Molybdenum neutralizes food toxins, affects the absorption of an important group of products. Nickel supports the health of the sexual function of the body. Silicon plays an important role in the formation of bone fibers. Vanadium increases insulin sensitivity. Boron is needed to optimize calcium metabolism.

Vitamin and Mineral Complexes

Vitamin-mineral complexes are nutritional supplements aimed at providing the body with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Today, there are a huge number of vitamin and mineral complexes. For example, there are complexes for children, athletes, as well as for older people.

Such additives are absolutely harmless to the body, do not contain hormones and other dangerous components, and are of natural origin. Their goal is to promote health, normalize metabolic processes, etc.

You should be wary of synthetic vitamins. Since they can do more harm than good. Synthetic vitamins do not have a protein base, so they are almost not absorbed. Their only advantage is low cost.

Today in the sports nutrition market various types of vitamin-mineral complexes are presented, which differ greatly in price. I must say that in most cases their composition is not much different. The difference is that in cheap products all vitamins and minerals are “piled up”, which leads to a violation of their absorption by the body. The effectiveness of such complexes is very doubtful.

Inexpensive supplements, special technologies are used that not only increase the assimilation of certain elements but also achieve a synergistic effect, that is, mutually reinforce each other’s properties. It is clear that such vitamin-mineral complexes will bring more benefits.

Practice shows that it is impossible to achieve good results in bodybuilding, fitness, or powerlifting if you do not use additional sports complexes with vitamins and minerals. Athletes often face the problem of a training plateau (both in gaining muscle mass and in reducing body fat), even with abundant nutrition and systematic training, and this may be due to vitamin deficiency.

Add high-quality vitamin-mineral complexes to your diet of sports nutrition, and they will increase physical activity and supply your body with the greatest amount of necessary elements, and also help to avoid feeling unwell.

As for the dosage of vitamins in sports nutrition, scientific research has determined that for each person the need for vitamins is individual. Athletes must independently develop a dosage of vitamins for themselves. Complete ignoring the intake of vitamins will nullify all the efforts of athletes.

In addition to vitamins and minerals, there are other essential natural nutrients that I consider important for health. You can read information about the group of these elements here .


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