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Multivitamins: Little Nutrients For Big Gains

How much time, and more importantly, money do you spend on multivitamins each month? Chances are you don’t give much thought to one, and end up just picking up any random multivitamin that seems good enough.

In reality, you are actually short-changing the gains you could be making, since the average multivitamin is a far cry from the amounts of the nutrients that would be necessary to make a difference to your bottom line.

Sadly, you may be well-versed in the latest trendy supplement development, but if you don’t spend adequate time researching good multivitamins, you’ve already set yourself up for a major disadvantage down the road.

In this article we discuss exactly how and a good multivitamin supplement can help you excel, and the most important ones to keep your eyes on.

Why Do You Even Need A Multivitamin?

Most supplements that are referred to as multivitamins, are more correctly a combination of vitamins and minerals, although people tend to ignore the minerals for reasons not fully understood.

The basic premise of taking a multivitamin is for nutritional fortification. That is, helping to boost the amount of a specific vitamin or mineral consumed on a daily basis, especially if getting it from real food is difficult. The hard truth? You are probably still not getting enough even if you think you are.

Inadvertently, this ends up becoming a crutch to many people, since they believe that their diet can be subpar and a multivitamin will help make everything better. This is not true, since even the best multivitamins can only contain so much of anyone nutrient, making it necessary for you to still consume what you can from real food.

With that said, well timed and thought out multivitamin supplementation can help you achieve your goals, especially if you take the time to look for one which contains nutrients that are specifically tailored to supply what you are looking for.

Good multivitamins tend to contain adequate amount of the following:

Vitamins

Vitamin B

The B vitamins consist of an entire family of related water-soluble compound with a primary role on the metabolism[i] of food consumed. While most multivitamin brands contain some amount of these vitamins, many simply under dose what they include to such an extent that you are unlikely to notice any benefit.

Vitamin B needs are typically higher is vegans or hard training athletes who rapidly deplete these vitamins. They are also extremely safe, being water soluble, so you don’t need to worry much about adverse effects from consuming higher than normal amounts.

Vitamin C

Best known to help support the immune system, vitamin C can also reduce the impact of oxidative damage on muscles and help support your recovery[ii]. Not to mention that vitamin C also contributes to the synthesis of collagen, an important structural protein that helps to support joint and connective tissue.

Vitamin C’S protective actions help limit excessive muscle breakdown, especially under hypocaloric states.

Just don’t consume it immediately after your workout or you may lose much of the muscle breakdown necessary to elicit hypertrophy.

Vitamin D

Known as the sunshine vitamin, it is more correctly classified as a hormone, and has several benefits for the body that can enhance the accrual of lean muscle mass. Vitamin D also plays a big role on immunity and can help ensure that you don’t missed workouts owing to illness.

There are no clear cut links between Vitamin D and muscle gain, but correlation is a strong indicator of benefit[iii]. In this case, it is the fact that men with higher levels of serum Vit D also display greater testosterone levels and muscle hypertrophy, compared with deficient men.

Add that to improved bone mass density and calcium absorption and there should scarcely be a reason to not get more of this vitamin.

Minerals

They are arguably many more minerals than vitamins, with extremely variable roles in the body. While all minerals have a place in your diet, there are some of which can be considered more important than others. These include:

Iron

Iron is a key nutrient responsible for red blood cell synthesis, where it forms part of the complex molecules known as haemoglobin. The function of haemoglobin is to bind to oxygen molecules, where it is transported to parts of the body that needed. Iron also helps improve endurance and supports cardiopulmonary function in endurance athletes[iv]. Dietary iron deficiency can manifest in ways such as frequent tiredness, poor tolerance to cold, and all-round lack of energy.

Magnesium

Magnesium quickly ranks as one of the most essential minerals for athletes, helping to support energy levels, managing the effect of stress[v] on the body, and most notably- helping you get sufficient sleep, which translates to better muscle growth.

Many people are actually deficient in this mineral, and it is no stretch of the imagination to assume that athletes may fare even worse because of additional loss via sweat. Most multivitamins contain only a basic amount of this mineral, but premium supplements take this into consideration when formulating their product.

Zinc

One of the most well-known and popular minerals when it comes to male health, zinc’s utility is almost limitless. From possessing the ability to help increase testosterone levels, improving your immunity and also being involved in virtually all of the enzymatic reactions occurring in the body every second of our existence, you can see how important it is to get enough.

Men have it harder than most too; since zinc is lost in sweat, but also in ejaculate fluid during sexual intercourse. Shoot for 25-50 mg daily, since higher dosages are associated with nasty intestinal side effects.

Calcium

You know too well that calcium is important to the health of bones, but you may be less familiar with the role in plays in muscular health. Calcium is actually one of the primary driving factors that facilitate muscular contraction, as well as its ability to relax.

Calcium also helps to improve the usage of fatty acids for fuel[vi] (making its potential weight loss benefits very useful), and also acts as a general transporter for many important amino acids and even creatine in part.

In Summary

A good multivitamin contains much more than the few we outlined above, but great ones tend to include a lot of what we need as athletes. Digestive enzymes, botanicals and even specific amino acids are also even included in some premium grade products and with good effect- they make a staple even more effective.

Do not underestimate the importance of adequate micronutrient consumption.

[i] Zheng, Y., Ma, A., Zheng, M. et al. B Vitamins Can Reduce Body Weight Gain by Increasing Metabolism-related Enzyme Activities in Rats Fed on a High-Fat Diet. CURR MED SCI 38, 174–183 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11596-018-1862-9

[ii] Paulsen G, Hamarsland H, Cumming KT, et al. Vitamin C and E supplementation alters protein signalling after a strength training session, but not muscle growth during 10 weeks of training. J Physiol. 2014;592(24):5391–5408. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2014.279950

[iii] Pilz S, Frisch S, Koertke H, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res. 2011;43(3):223–225. doi:10.1055/s-0030-1269854

[iv] Rubeor A, Goojha C, Manning J, White J. Does Iron Supplementation Improve Performance in Iron-Deficient Nonanemic Athletes?. Sports Health. 2018;10(5):400–405. doi:10.1177/1941738118777488

[v] Golf SW, Happel O, Graef V, Seim KE. Plasma aldosterone, cortisol and electrolyte concentrations in physical exercise after magnesium supplementation. J Clin Chem Clin Biochem. 1984;22(11):717–721. doi:10.1515/cclm.1984.22.11.717

[vi] Zhu, W., Cai, D., Wang, Y. et al. Calcium plus vitamin D3 supplementation facilitated Fat loss in overweight and obese college students with very-low calcium consumption: a randomized controlled trial. Nutr J 12, 8 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-12-8

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