Vitamins and Minerals + Athlete’s Diet

vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals are rightfully included in the list of supplements vital for any person, and especially for athletes. According to various studies, the content of vitamins in food today has decreased by 30-45%. Therefore, many people live in conditions of constant lack of important catalysts for metabolism. Thus, the vitamin-mineral correction of athletes’ diet in different periods of training and competitive activity is extremely important.

Vitamins and Minerals for Sportsmen

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By vitamins and minerals, we mean irreplaceable nutrients that the body cannot synthesize on its own. These substances can only be obtained from food, nutritional, or sports supplements. Another term that is commonly used in foreign literature to describe these elements is “micronutrients.” The origin of this term is due to the fact that the body needs vitamins and minerals in extremely small quantities compared to the needs for proteins and carbohydrates.

In the human body, vitamins work mainly as “coenzymes” – substances that increase enzymes’ activity by which most of the chemical processes, including protein synthesis, are produced.

In bodybuilding, vitamins are of great importance since almost all representatives of this class of essential substances are required for the formation of contractile protein and muscle growth. Like coenzymes, vitamins are components of many enzymes’ activity: in their absence, the body’s enzymes will not be able to perform their function. It will be impossible to build a muscular framework: the body will not be able to transform the substances entering it into those elements from which muscles are built.

Scientists state that in bodybuilding and any other sports, the need for vitamins increases since athletes’ metabolism proceeds at higher rates than the metabolism of ordinary people. When performing exercises, the consumption of vitamins can increase by one and a half to two times. In this regard, the doses of vitamins in bodybuilding are higher than usual. 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.

It is noted that athletes often face the problem of a training plateau (both when gaining muscle mass and when reducing fat), even with abundant nutrition and systematic training, and the reason for this may be a lack of vitamins. The body’s needs are not always fully met from food sources. This is especially true in bodybuilding since it requires a large amount of high-calorie food, which often contains few vitamins.

Bodybuilders simply fail to include enough fruits and other sources of vitamins in their diet, as this will lead to digestive upset. This dictates the need for taking special sports vitamins.

What is Vitamins and Minerals Complex?

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Vitamin-mineral complex (multivitamins) are supplements that are designed to supply the body with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Such supplements are available in the form of tablets, capsules, lozenges, powder, liquid, and injection solutions. Modern vitamin and mineral complexes are created, taking into account the characteristics of age, gender, and human activity.

Vitamin-mineral complexes do not contain hormonal and harmful substances. They are not dangerous to health and, on the contrary, aim to strengthen it and activate metabolic processes.

In modern, high-quality supplements, special technologies are used (gradual release, micro granulation, layer-by-layer dissolution), which allow us to eliminate negative interactions due to the separate intake of micronutrients, while synergistic vitamins and minerals, on the contrary, are released simultaneously.



Minerals are substances of inorganic origin. This means that animals and plants do not produce them. However, they can be found in food. Minerals are essential for normal body function. They provide nerve conduction, muscle contraction, fluid and electrolyte balance, and energy production, all of which are essential in bodybuilding.

Many minerals also act as the building blocks of human tissue. For example, calcium and phosphorus are part of the bone tissue, and zinc is involved in the synthesis of testosterone.

Minerals are subdivided into macro- and microelements, depending on how much the body needs.

Macronutrients are as follows:

  • calcium, 
  • magnesium, 
  • phosphorus, 
  • potassium,
  • sodium. 

The body’s need for these minerals is at least 200 mg per day.

Trace elements are below-listed:

  • chromium, 
  • cobalt, 
  • copper, 
  • iron, 
  • selenium, 
  • silicon, 
  • zinc. 

The need for them is less than 200 mg per day.

Minerals and vitamins are required in bodybuilding in larger quantities than in a normal lifestyle. Our body tissues contain fluid both inside cells (intracellular fluid) and in the intercellular space (extracellular fluid). Both liquids have dissolved minerals (electrolytes), electrically charged minerals, or ions.

Minerals work in concert to regulate water balance on both sides of cell membranes. Minerals also promote muscle contraction by transmitting signals across the cell membranes of nerve tissue.

Electrolyte balance is essential for maintaining normal health and achieving optimal athletic performance.



The two main electrolytes are sodium and potassium.

Sodium regulates intercellular fluid balance, and potassium regulates fluid balance within cells. Sodium comes primarily from salt and processed foods. A safe sodium dose would be 500 mg (minimum requirement) to 2,400 mg per day or no more than one dessert teaspoon (1.6 g) of sodium chloride per day. While some sodium can be removed from the body in sweat during exercise, there is no need to consume it in supplement form. The normal diet includes enough sodium to replace the loss.

Moreover, the body independently stores sodium in reserve. However, a significant sodium deficiency can occur during athletic activities that require increased endurance, such as a triathlon that lasts more than four hours.

By consuming 119-178 ml of a sports drink every 10-20 minutes, as well as including salty foods in your diet, you can replenish the sodium need for an athlete.

Thus, during a strenuous sporting event lasting more than three hours, you will need a sports drink containing 200-300 mg sodium per 237 ml. To maintain the same fluid balance during the recovery period, after strenuous physical activity, it is necessary to drink a drink containing sodium as it helps water enter the cells.

However, consuming too much plain water (overhydration) can lead to a strong dissolution of sodium and other electrolytes, which negatively affects athletes’ performance.

Potassium acts within cells to regulate fluid balance and is also involved in maintaining a normal heartbeat, contributing to muscle contraction, regulating blood pressure, and carrying nutrients to cells. Unlike sodium, potassium is not stored in the body in reserve, so you need to make sure that there are many foods rich in potassium in the diet, for example, bananas, oranges, and tomatoes. It is necessary to consume 1600-2000 mg of potassium per day, which is easy to do with many fruits and vegetables.

To lose weight, some competitive bodybuilders use diuretics, drugs that increase urine production and flow. This is a dangerous practice, as diuretics can flush potassium and other electrolytes from the body. A life-threatening imbalance can then occur, and there have been cases where some professional bodybuilders have died during the competition due to the abuse of these drugs.


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The presence of vitamins in the diet of athletes is indisputably important. But it is even more important to know when to stop. Excessive consumption of them can be harmful, up to poisoning.

Besides, a constant increase in the dose of vitamins leads to their relative deficiency in the transition to normal physiological doses. Vitamins supplied with food are essential elements since they are not formed in the body or are synthesized in a minimum amount that is insufficient for a person. Nevertheless, the body requires relatively few of these extremely important nutrients.

The daily requirement depends on various factors, including the individual qualities of the athlete, their nationality, the intensity of physical and mental work, neuropsychic stress, as well as climatic and other external conditions. In areas with a harsh climate (due to an increase in energy costs), the demand sometimes increases by 30-60%. In high altitude conditions and with sweltering heat (over 40 ° C), this need sometimes rises by 1.5-3 times.

The higher the calorie content of the foods consumed, and the more proteins in the diet, the higher the body’s need for vitamins. If the diet’s main components are carbohydrates, an increased intake of vitamin B1 is required; if proteins of plant origin predominate in food, then special attention should be paid to vitamin PP.

As noted earlier, optimal nutrition does not cover the increased needs of athletes for vitamins, especially in the winter-spring period.

Therefore, it becomes necessary to take additional vitamins (sports supplements and drugs).

Moreover, this must be done taking into account the individual qualities of the athlete, the nature of their nutrition, the intensity of training, as well as the time of year, climatic conditions, the likelihood of colds, etc. impact on several biochemical processes, which is now commonly called the phenomenon of synergy.

Vitamins for Athletes

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As for athletes, they need B vitamins, as well as antioxidant vitamins C and E.

The nervous system’s effective work and, ultimately, the intensity of strength training depend on the B vitamins.

Lack of these vitamins disrupts protein and fat metabolism, which can lead to poor muscle growth. Vitamins C and E are urgently needed to compensate for oxidative stress that affects the body during exercise.

Sports pharmacology advises choosing vitamin complexes with microminerals containing at least 50-100 mg of vitamins B1 and B6 and 50-100 μg of vitamin B12. Vitamin C requires 500-1000 mg, vitamin E – 400-800 m. units.

In addition to complex vitamin preparations, individual vitamins are also used in sports, of which the following are most often used:

Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is an effective means of stimulating oxidative processes, increasing endurance, and restoring performance, a prophylactic agent for acute diseases of the upper respiratory tract, furunculosis, and poisoning.

It is part of the nutritional formula used for distance training in mountainous terrain. Vitamin C is taken orally in tablets of 0.5 g 3 times a day. 10-15 minutes before the start, with short-term intense loads, it is recommended to take 150-200 mg of ascorbic acid.

Deficiency of vitamin C is usually observed in winter and early spring, which is due to the low content of ascorbic acid in food during these seasons, and manifests itself in a decrease in the body’s resistance to colds, increased fatigue.

vitamin c

Tocopherol acetate (vitamin E) regulates oxidative processes, promotes ATP accumulation in muscles, and increases efficiency, especially in conditions of oxygen deficiency (hypoxia) in mid-altitude mountains. With overtraining and acute fatigue, take one teaspoon of a 5- or 10-percent oil solution for intramuscular administration – 1 ampoule for 10-15 days, with normal training – 15-50 mg 2 times a day for 5- 10 days. The deficiency’s deficiency manifests itself in impaired peripheral circulation, muscle weakness, and destruction of red blood cells.

B1 (thiamine) comes from food. With its lack, metabolism as a whole suffers. The need for this vitamin largely depends on the quality and quantity of food consumed. On the contrary, the predominance of carbohydrates and proteins in the diet increases the need for thiamine and fats. Indispensable during periods of intense physical and mental stress, as it accelerates recovery processes and protects against overstrain.

B2 (riboflavin) is also involved in almost all types of metabolism (protein, fat, and carbohydrate). It can provide good vision, normalize the condition of the skin and mucous membranes, and take part in the synthesis of hemoglobin. In bodybuilding, vitamin B2 is used not only to prevent hypovitaminosis during periods of high psychophysical stress but also for the treatment of overexertion and anemia.

PP (nicotinic acid) – a powerful vasodilator, its effect is directed mainly on the superficial vessels. The predominance of vegetable proteins in the protein diet can increase the need for nicotinic acid. Nicotinic acid is also used for prophylactic purposes during periods of great physical and mental stress.

Calcium pangamate (vitamin B15) increases the body’s resistance to hypoxia, improves the absorption of oxygen by tissues, increases the synthesis of glycogen in muscles, liver, myocardium, and creatine phosphate in muscles and myocardium, especially during muscle activity. It is used to accelerate the recovery of working capacity after heavy physical exertion with a pronounced oxygen debt, with symptoms of myocardial overstrain, hepatic pain syndrome, during training in mid-altitude mountains. Vitamin B15 is taken at 150-200 mg per day 4-6 days before the competition and on the following days of stay in the midlands.

B12 (cyanocobalamin), on the one hand, enters the body with food, but on the other hand, it is also synthesized by the intestinal microflora. It is the most important factor for normal growth, hematopoiesis, and epithelium development and is also involved in fat and carbohydrate metabolism.

B9 (folic acid) also enters the body with food and is synthesized by the intestinal microflora. Like cyanocobalamin, folic acid is essential for normal blood formation.

B5 (calcium pantothenate) – an important regulator of metabolism. It enters the human body with food and is also produced in significant quantities in the intestines. The need for pantothenic acid at high physical and psycho-emotional stress and exposure to adverse external factors also doubles.

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