Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that are essential to the metabolic processes and functions of the human body. Vitamins can be found in many healthy foods and may be beneficial to those prone to deficiencies such as pregnant women, elderly people, vegetarians and sports people. The average person with an adequate diet will presumably consume all essential vitamins from their daily food consumption. However, those with potential deficiencies quite commonly use vitamin supplements. As athletes and bodybuilders participate in gruelling training sessions on a daily basis, much of the food they consume is worked off in the process. This includes any vitamins they may consume. It is basically impossible to then consume even more food to make up for this potential deficiency. Common vitamin supplements for sports people are stacks of numerous nutrients rolled into one convenient product. Most vitamin stacks will also include minerals such as zinc, calcium, copper, magnesium, iron, potassium and sodium & are perfect to take in conjunction with other supplements such as protein powders, pre workout, intra workout & post workout supplements.
There are 13 vitamins required by the human body. Nine of them are water soluble (dissolve easily in water) and four are fat soluble (absorbed by fats):
• Vitamin A: Vitamin A is fat soluble and helps to maintain vision, healthy skin and teeth and immune function. It also plays a role in reproduction and bone growth. Vitamin A can be found in foods such as milk, eggs, cheese, broccoli, spinach, carrot and pumpkin (Mann & Truswell, 2007).
• Vitamin B1: This vitamin assists in energy production by breaking down carbohydrates and fats. It then supplies this energy to tissues within the body. It also plays a role in nerve function and can be found in foods such as cereals, wholegrains and pork. Vitamin B1 is water soluble (Mann & Truswell, 2007).
• Vitamin B2: Known for its production of red blood cells, vitamin B2 also ensures that vitamin B6 is active in the body. Additionally, it is thought to reduce risks associated with the cardiovascular system. Vitamin B2 is water soluble and found in dairy products such as cheese, milk and yoghurt (Mann & Truswell, 2007).
• Vitamin B3: Found naturally in beef, pork, beans and eggs, vitamin B3 is water soluble and assists the liver in the breaking down of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It also maintains healthy skin and releases calcium from cellular stores (Mann & Truswell, 2007).
• Vitamin B5: Also known as pantothenic acid, vitamin B5 is crucial to the metabolism and synthesis of carbohydrates, proteins and fats within the body. A pregnancy won’t be healthy if the mother has a pantothenic acid deficiency. It is water soluble and found in chicken, beef, potatoes and eggs (Mann & Truswell, 2007).
• Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is water soluble and plays a role in amino acid metabolism, gluconeogenesis and lipid metabolism. It also acts as a co-enzyme to various enzymes within the body. Vitamin B6 can be found naturally in organ meats, beans and fruits (Mann & Truswell, 2007).
• Vitamin B7: Better known as biotin, vitamin B7 plays a crucial role in the metabolism of amino acids and fats. It is also needed by the body for cell growth and production of fatty acids. Vitamin B7 is water soluble and can be found in milk, liver, egg yolk and other meats (Mann & Truswell, 2007).
• Vitamin B9: Folate and folic acid are well known forms of vitamin B9. Its function within the body is maintaining heart health, production of new cells and amino acids and the breaking down of proteins. Vitamin B9 is water soluble and can be found in cereals, vegetables and fruits (Mann & Truswell, 2007).
• Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is associated with blood and nerve function so a deficiency could potentially cause anaemia. It is also plays a role in cell metabolism. Vitamin B12 is water soluble and found in meats such as beef, lamb, fish, chicken and dairy products (Mann & Truswell, 2007).
• Vitamin C: Perhaps the most well known of the 13, vitamin C helps fight infection, maintain healthy bones and protect against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. It is water soluble and can be found naturally in fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, blackcurrants, and kiwi fruit (Mann & Truswell, 2007).
• Vitamin D: Not many foods contain vitamin D. Humans receive most of their store by sunlight on the skin, which allows the body to produce it. Vitamin D absorbs calcium, maintains calcium levels in the blood and contributes to healthy skin and muscle strength. It is fat soluble (Mann & Skeaff, 2007).
• Vitamin E: Well known for its positive effect on circulation, the nervous system and heart, vitamin E is fat soluble and also acts as an anti oxidant for fats. It can be found naturally in chicken, fish, oils, sunflower seeds, cashews, peanuts and almonds (Mann & Skeaff, 2007).
• Vitamin K: This vitamin is fat soluble and needed by humans for blood clotting. Without it the body can bleed from cuts and sores for a longer amount of time than usual. This vitamin is also given to newborn babies as they are not born with the bacteria that produce it within the body (Mann & Skeaff, 2007).
Vitamins & Mineral Supplements are commonly presented & sold as Complementary Medicines, Registered Therapeutic Items or Goods and Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods in Australia. Vitamins & Mineral Supplements are not a sole source of nutrition and should be used in conjunction with an appropriate physical training or exercise programme. Not suitable for children or pregnant women. Should only be used under medical or dietetic supervision. Always read label prior to use.Vitamins & minerals are not a sole source of nutrition and should be used in conjunction with an appropriate physical training or exercise programme. Not suitable for children or pregnant women. Should only be used under medical or dietetic supervision. Always read label prior to use.
Mann & Truswell (2007), Essentials of Human Nutrition.Oxford University Press