Many articles about bodybuilding focus on the so-called ‘macronutrients,’ and anyone who has researched the nutritional aspect of bodybuilding will know all about the importance of packing in protein and controlling carbs.
In particular, those who are serious about taking in high quality protein should opt for whey protein isolate which has had the fat and lactose stripped out. ProEnergy® from EnergyFirst contains a big hit of all-natural whey protein isolate from grass-fed cows.
However, you could easily sabotage your efforts to bulk up by ignoring your body’s need for micronutrients – more commonly known as vitamins and minerals. These are crucial to ensure the whole metabolism process works properly, and some can’t be stored in the body and so need to be consumed daily. I’ll start with these…
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Bodybuilding
The Water-Solubles (B-Vitamins and Vitamin C)
The body is unable to store the water-soluble vitamins, so you will quickly become deficient in them if you don’t ingest them on a daily basis. what vitamins should i take for bodybuilding? There are six you need to concern yourself with, and they are vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid) and good old Vitamin C (citric acid).
Vitamin B1 is necessary for extracting the energy from carbs and for the functioning of the nervous system. It can be found in beef, pork, eggs, seeds and nuts.
Vitamin B2 is needed to break down the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) as well as keeping your skin healthy. Sunflower seeds are a super source of riboflavin.
30% of your daily Vitamin B3 requirement can be sourced from a cup of fresh milk; it is linked with reduced levels of heart disease but, as this WebMD article explains, it could be harmful to take too much.
There are many foods that will provide you with Vitamin B7. This Newsmax feature focuses on the benefits and sources of biotin. Folic acid is often associated with pregnancy, but bodybuilders also need Vitamin B9 because it plays a vital part in red blood cell production, preventing anaemia. One food that is rich in both folic acid and citric acid (Vitamin C) is broccoli. Vitamin C, of course, is a brilliant immunity booster as well as being an important antioxidant.
Vitamins A & D
This Bodybuilding.com article explains more about why Vitamin A and D, both fat-soluble nutrients, are so important for keeping your system running efficiently and where you can source these vitamins naturally. Here is some additional nutritional information about Vitamin D in this Muscle & Fitness piece and this quinoa beef stew recipe, also posted by Muscle & Fitness, combines both of these life-enhancing vitamins in one filling and tasty hit.
Vitamins E & K
Vitamins E and K are also fat-soluble, with Vitamin E widely regarded for its antioxidant properties and Vitamin K for its involvement in the clotting of blood. Vitamin E is also building up a reputation as a nutrient that is beneficial for heart health since it acts to both prevent LDL cholesterol from depositing itself on artery walls and to limit the formation of muscle tissue in damaged arteries. Vitamin K is also needed to keep your bones, teeth and cartilage in good order and, though it is rare to be deficient in it, eating your greens should ensure you have all that you need.
Other Nutrients you Need
Creatine, an organic nitrogenous acid, is one of the most widely cited nutrients used by bodybuilders, and this article from Bodybuilding.com reveals six reasons why creatine is so popular.
Then there is ZMA, a supplement which combines zinc, magnesium and vitamin B5; Jim Stoppani Ph.D. explains just why these minerals are so important to good health.
Myoglobin, a compound which transports nutrients to working muscle (pretty important for bodybuilding) requires iron and the symptoms of deficiency in this crucial mineral is fatigue, an inability to concentrate and weakness – neither of which will help you survive a moderate workout, let alone an intense one. Women require significantly more iron than men, and some types (non-heme) can be notoriously difficult to absorb if other chemicals, such as tannin, from tea, and phytates, from whole grains, are present.
No nutritional piece would be complete without looking at the omega-3 fatty acids, and you can keep yourself running smoothly with EnergyFirst Omega Energy Fish Oil. Fish oils help bodybuilders with their blood circulation, while Marie Spano, Vice-president of the ISSN reveals why fish oils are great for joints too in this illuminating piece.
A Note on Supplementation
You may be wondering whether a good multivitamin can save you all of the effort involved in sourcing the vitamins and minerals you need from natural foods. Can popping a pill really be as good for you as cooking up a nutritious meal? The answer is not straightforward. On the one hand, the natural forms of many vitamins and minerals are more efficiently absorbed by the body than those contained in supplements; but on the other hand, the goodness-stripping effect of modern food processing techniques and the poor quality of some of our soils means that supplementation is becoming increasingly important to maintain health. The advance of food science over recent years has led to supplements that are more effective than they once were. The answer is also different depending on the particular nutrient concerned. For example, Vitamin E is much more easily absorbed in its natural form than as a supplement.
Fish oil supplements are one example where a purified, concentrated form of nutrient may be better than its natural source given the degraded state of many of our waterways with fish often found to be contaminated with damaging heavy metals. Check out our detailed post on What to Look For In Fish Oil Supplements.
So the next time you’re building a nutritional plan to sustain you through your bodybuilding regime, pay just as much attention to micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) as to your protein, carbs and fat content. Think of micronutrients as supporting the overall cellular condition of your body, enabling you to build muscle and lose fat efficiently while keeping you feeling healthy and full of energy.