Bodybuilding and fitness are all about training hard, gaining muscles and staying lean and fit. As a Bodybuilder, to ensure you gain lean muscle, you eat in a minimal surplus, take adequate protein, and emphasize the sleep & recovery process. You smartly incorporate weight training sessions & cardio in your routine to get the best results possible. You do all this hard work & persevere over the years to become the best bodybuilder you can be.
But are you doing enough & taking care of all the variables to transform your physique & become the best bodybuilder?
It's the little things in life that matter the most. The same goes for bodybuilding. You may feel like you are pushing hard in your training, eating clean & hitting your macros & taking sufficient sleep, but the one thing that the majority of lifters tend to overlook is their micronutrient intake.
Why are Micronutrients so important?
Micronutrients are "vitamins & minerals" in general. Your body needs these in much smaller quantities when compared to macronutrients (Protein, Carbs & Fats). That is why they are labelled "micro."
Though you need them in a much smaller quantity, the micronutrients are responsible for numerous biological processes such as the production of hormones, enzymes for energy production, muscle tissue repair, and nutrient absorption.
Therefore, you need to get these micronutrients to optimize your muscle-building process. Proper growth & development of muscles cannot occur unless you start emphasizing micronutrients. Neglecting the micros could be a big mistake as your body needs these nutrients for several essential functions.
This article will discuss the 13 vital micronutrients, aka vitamins, their uses & their specific relevance to lifters & how to find the right balance between them.
Types of Vitamins & Functions
Vitamins are micronutrients that are carbon-containing organic compounds needed to perform essential physiological functions such as digestion and growth. Lacking any of the vitamins in your diet could also lead to specific deficiencies.
Vitamins can primarily be divided into two categories: Water-Soluble Vitamins & Fat-Soluble Vitamins.
Most of the vitamins get dissolved in water & hence called water-soluble. They are not easily stored in the body & keeps getting flushed out of the system. Therefore, they need to get replenished regularly. While each water-soluble vitamin has a unique role to play, their functions are somewhat related.
B Vitamins - Most B Vitamins act as co-enzymes maintaining many biological functions & triggering critical chemical reactions in the body. These reactions are involved in cellular energy production. These vitamins also promote healthy muscle tone, digestion & proper brain function.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) - Helps in energy production, metabolizes carbs & amino acids (the building block of proteins) that are beneficial for muscle tissue development.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) - Helps metabolize carbs, fats & proteins necessary for energy production. It is also needed to make red blood cells & antibodies produced by your body to help the immune system protect the body from infection and diseases.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) - Helps produce hormones in the adrenal glands needed to enhance muscle growth & recovery. It also helps synthesize amino acids in the brain, stimulating neurotransmitters like serotonin & dopamine that boost training energy & improve your mood.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) - Helps to metabolize fatty acids that are required for synthesizing hormones like testosterone. Vitamin B5 boosts stamina & enhances bone health by assisting the absorption of calcium. It also prevents certain forms of anaemia. Vitamin B5 is also essential to maintain the digestive tract's health to ensure the macros are absorbed and used to maximum effect.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) - This vitamin is necessary for more than 200 bodily functions. It is involved in enzymatic reactions and protein metabolism. It assembles amino acids into various proteins. It also maintains a healthy balance between sodium & potassium & promotes the formation of red blood cells.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin) - It helps to metabolize both carbohydrates & fats & support cell growth. It also promotes healthy nerve tissue and sweat glands. You may also have heard of many beauty products having biotin as it promotes healthy hair, skin & nails.
Vitamin B9: Folate (Folic Acid) - It is vital for healthy cell division & replication, i.e., instrumental in forming DNA within every cell of the body, including muscle tissues. It helps create red blood cells that carry oxygen to muscle tissues, pivotal to enhancing training output & recovery.
Vitamin B 12 (Cobalamin) - Helps digest the food properly & helps the body absorb nutrients for better muscle growth & recovery. It also synthesizes protein & regulates carbs & fats metabolization. It enables the healthy functioning of the central nervous system & to form red blood cells.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) - An essential vitamin for bodybuilders, needed in collagen & L-carnitine formation. It is a super antioxidant & required in more than three hundred metabolic functions, including muscle tissue growth & repair. It also helps in the production of anti-stress hormones that help in optimal recovery. It also helps in muscle growth by metabolizing protein.
These vitamins do not dissolve in water & hence needed in lesser amounts compared to water-soluble vitamins. These are stored in your liver & fatty tissues called chylomicrons. They are best absorbed when consumed alongside a good source of fat.
Vitamin A - It enhances the immune system & protects your body against infections. It is also an antioxidant that helps in safeguarding skeletal muscle fibres against oxidants. It also reduces the risk of heart diseases & helps maintain eyesight & prevents night blindness.
Vitamin D - Critical vitamin needed to absorb phosphorus and calcium to promote normal growth, development & maintenance of your bones and teeth. Sunlight is the most significant source of Vitamin D.
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol) - Yes, it is a real thing, not just an advertising gimmick on a fancy lotion. It is an antioxidant that helps to reduce oxidative stress while training at high intensity. When your body burns fat, substances called Reactive Oxidative Species (ROS) are formed that travels in your body. Vitamin E helps in preventing the ROS from damaging living tissue.
Vitamin K - It is essential for the growth & repair of bone tissues that may be damaged from regular heavy-weight training. It also improves insulin sensitivity, beneficial for reducing body fat storage. It is also needed to make a substance called prothrombin that is essential for blood clotting.
Supplementing with a high-quality multivitamin supplement becomes a necessary and a simple solution.
Many bodybuilders fall short of getting the right amount of micronutrients in their diet needed for optimal training & performance. Micronutrient deficient diet hinders Muscle growth & development. Therefore, maximizing the micros should be of utmost priority to achieve the desired results.
Bodybuilders also get depleted of valuable nutrients because of the nature of their intensive training, sweat losses & oxidative stress. Such depletion could become a reason for nutrient imbalances & halt muscle growth and progress.
It becomes a challenge to achieve the correct amount of valuable micronutrients through diet. Therefore, supplementing with a high-quality multivitamin supplement becomes a necessary and a simple solution.