The guide of essentials vitamins for athletes
What are Vitamins?
Vitamins are essential for the proper functioning of the body. Yet they cannot be synthesized by the body. It is therefore imperative to provide them with food.
However, generally, the foods we eat do not provide the full range of vitamins in sufficient amounts that the body needs. Hence the value of supplementation to avoid deficiencies that reduce the effectiveness of metabolic reactions essential for health and fitness.
Vitamins are of paramount importance for athletes and for the sedentary, because they play an essential role in the development of physiological functions. Vitamins are particularly essential for:
- carrying out numerous metabolic reactions (building muscles, bones and skin)
- the good assimilation of nutrients
- the production of energy available in the body
Why does the athlete have bigger needs in vitamins?
Athletes and more particularly strength sports practitioners have higher energy needs. Athletes who train regularly and/or intensely mobilize their vitamin stores more. This explains why the latter are generally deficient, especially if they are on a low calorie diet.
However, vitamins are essential for maintaining good physical performance, in particular because they help strengthen the immune system and better fight against oxidative stress produced during training. A vitamin supplementation is of great interest in helping the athlete to stay in good health, to improve his performances and to limit his deficiencies while respecting the caloric intakes that he has set for himself.
The benefits of vitamins for the athlete
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning it can be stored in fat and therefore does not need to be present in food every day. It is important for maintaining a good immune system, for growth and for vision.
Vitamin A is very important for the athlete, because it has antioxidant properties allowing him to strengthen his immune system and to better resist the oxidative stress caused during training. The phenomenon of oxidative stress is explained by the production of free radicals (intensified during training) which are aggressive molecules that attack cells. This can lead to muscle damage after exercise. This is where vitamin A comes in, the antioxidant benefits of which create a "protective shield" against free radicals.
Vitamin A thus allows athletes to maintain their performance over the long term.
Group B vitamins
There are 8 vitamins of group B: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B8, B9 and B12. We will explain to you how each one contributes to the health and to the improvement of sports performance.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is water soluble, which means the body cannot store it. It is therefore essential to get it into the body every day through food. This vitamin has an essential role in energy metabolism by helping in particular in the conversion of glucose into energy. Normal levels of vitamin B1 also help to ensure good neurological functions.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) also plays a role in energy production and also has antioxidant properties.
Vitamin B3 (niacin) plays an important role in cellular energy production. This vitamin can also play a vasodilator role in blood vessels. In addition, vitamin B3 has the ability to lower homocysteine levels and therefore lower the risk of developing heart disease. Finally, vitamin B3 can also help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) plays an important role in nutrient metabolism and in the synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that enables muscle contraction.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) plays a role in carrying out more than one hundred enzymatic reactions linked to protein synthesis.
Vitamin B8 (biotin) is involved in the metabolism of glucose and fatty acids, two important building blocks for endurance exercise.
Vitamin B9 (folic acid) plays an important role in the normal formation of DNA and red blood cells. Normal levels of vitamin B9 also allow good oxygenation of the muscles and therefore the maintenance of good physical performance.
Vitamin B12 helps reduce oxidative stress and thus improve the athlete's recovery. This vitamin also supports cardiovascular health by regulating homocysteine levels in the body. Finally, vitamin B12 plays a protective role for the nervous system thanks to its beneficial effects on the regeneration of the nerves.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin known for its antioxidant properties and its protective effects on the immune system. Vitamin C is also essential for the body to synthesize collagen, l-carnitine and several neurotransmitters. All these elements are crucial for the athlete: indeed collagen is a protein representing 25 to 35% of the protein content in the body. As for l-carnitine, it is an amino acid necessary for the conversion of fatty acids into cellular energy. Finally, neurotransmitters are essential for the transmission of nerve flows.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that can be obtained by exposure to the sun, hence the benefit of supplementing this vitamin in winter. However, athletes generally deficient in vitamin D have a great need for it. Indeed, it helps to develop more physical strength during training, is associated with the production of testosterone and also stimulates fat loss.
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin which is stored by muscles and fatty tissue. This vitamin, known for its antioxidant properties, is a valuable ally in protecting against free radicals. This allows the athlete to resist the effort better and to recover better after training. Vitamin E thus helps reduce muscle breakdown and minimize muscle stiffness associated with exertion. Vitamin E also strengthens the immune system and protects the nervous system. Through all of these mechanisms, it therefore contributes to improving sports performance.
There are two forms of vitamin K: K1 and K2. These two forms are important, however vitamin K2 is particularly effective in strengthening the bones and is very important in the fight against inflammatory phenomena and joint pain.