There are millions of biochemical reactions that go on in our bodies each day. Our body uses what are called enzymes, as catalysts for these reactions. Other compounds can assist these enzymes in carrying out these biochemical reactions, making them more (or less) effective. Organic coenzymes are called vitamins, inorganic coenzymes are called minerals (but that's another story). All in all, there are thirteen vitamins that are required for our bodies to function properly. They are:
Vitamin A -
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B9 (Folic acid)
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin D -
Vitamin E -
Fat Soluble vs. Water Soluble - Vitamins fall into two categories - Fat Soluble and Water Soluble. The fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) are saved by the body and stored in fat, sometimes for extended periods of time. They are not readily excreted from the body and therefore daily intake should be monitored closely. Overdose of fat-soluble vitamins is a common problem of over-the-counter type vitamin tablets and can lead to serious health problems.
On the other hand, water-soluble vitamins (B vitamins, Biotin, and C) are easily dissolved in water, so whatever your body isn't using is easily eliminated in urine. You don't have to worry about overdosing, but this means you need a continuous supply of them in your diet. Now, let's take a closer look at these thirteen vitamins.
Vitamin A - Of all the fat-soluble vitamins, Vitamin A (Retinol) is the most common. It's needed for healthy bones and teeth, and it helps maintain healthy vision, skin as well as the lining of the nervous, respiratory and digestive systems. However, excess intake may cause headaches, dry skin, liver damage and birth defects.
Thankfully, it has a water-soluble cousin known as the carotenoids - the most common of them being Beta-Carotene. Most multivitamin supplements list vitamin A and have the words "Beta-Carotene" next to it. Beta-carotene is not toxic to the body even in large amounts, because the body takes only the amount needed and converts that into Vitamin A while the rest is excreted.
Good sources include: milk, eggs, liver, dark green leafy vegetables, cheese and carrots.
Vitamin B - Vitamin B or B complex is a group of eight water-soluble vitamins. Each of these affects a different part of energy production in the body.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Helps convert food into energy. It also facilitates the proper functioning of the heart and the nervous system. Good sources include: Nuts, yeast, whole grains, most vegetables, and citrus fruits.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Helps the body cells use oxygen, promotes healthy skin and tissue repair. Good sources include: Cheese, meats, fish and poultry
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Important for cell metabolism and the absorption of carbohydrates. It also helps maintain proper brain function Good sources include: Broccoli, fish and whole grain breads.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): Helps the body convert food into energy. It comes from almost all foods.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Helps produce essential proteins and helps convert proteins into energy Good sources include: Bananas, potatoes and nuts
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid): Important for the production of red blood cells. Protects against heart disease and essential in the first three months of pregnancy to prevent birth defects. Good sources include: Dark green leafy vegetables, fruits and liver.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Important in the production of genetic material in cells. Helps maintain proper functioning of the nervous system. Good sources include: Eggs, meat, fish, milk products and poultry.
Vitamin C - Vitamin C is perhaps the most common water-soluble vitamin. It should be ingested on a daily basis. 500mg of Vitamin C provides you with 833% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), but it is not uncommon for individuals to take as much as 2000mg or more per day. Vitamin C provides the structure for connective tissues in the body. It is a powerful antioxidant. Good sources include: Citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables.
Vitamin D - This vitamin is a fat-soluble vitamin required to help absorb calcium from the diet. It is produced naturally in the body from sunlight. Excess consumption may cause diarrhea, nausea and joint pain. The RDA for Vitamin D is 400 IU (International Units) per day. Good sources include: Salmon, tuna, eggs and milk. Remember that milk is often fortified with extra Vitamin D so be sure to factor that into your daily intake.
Vitamin E - This fat-soluble vitamin is an excellent antioxidant that promotes healing and helps the circulatory system. It is found in almost all foods, especially in olive and vegetable oils. The RDA for Vitamin E is 10mg. Even though it is fat-soluble, the body easily breaks down excess Vitamin E.
Vitamin K - This fat-soluble vitamin is needed for normal blood clotting. The RDA for Vitamin K is 80mcg (micrograms) for men and 65mcg for women. Like Vitamin E, it is easily broken down when in excess. Good sources include: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, liver, avocados and tomatoes.
Well there you have it - A quick guide to the bodybuilding vitamins that keep us strong and healthy. The next time you go shopping for supplements, be sure to keep these facts in mind. Even before the fancy prohormones, nitric oxides consider investing in a quality multivitamin first. Get your basic nutritional needs down, keep it simple early on, and worry about the fancy supplements later. Remember SUPPLEMENTS ARE MADE TO SUPPLEMENT YOUR DIET, WITH OUT A DIET SUPPLEMENTS AREN'T ANYTHING!