Vitamins: What to Take & Why
Along with diet and exercise, vitamins can be a helpful supplement to your health routine. Many that are essential to our body’s basic functions are actually deficient in a large portion of the population. But it can be difficult to sort through all the vitamins and minerals on the pharmacy shelf. Surely, you don’t need to take 100 different pills a day to be healthy. Researching every single vitamin can be overwhelming, but taking too much or too little of a certain one without adequate knowledge about it can have its consequences. So let’s go through a quick summary of some of the most important vitamins you can add to your daily consumption and what they actually do.
The problem with just taking a multivitamin is that certain vitamins compete with each other for absorption. If you take one, it can cancel out the other. A few examples include calcium and magnesium, as well as vitamin C and B vitamins. Also, because there are so many different vitamins crammed into one pill, the actual amount of each one in that pill is sometimes negligible. The potency can be much lower than the recommended daily dose and the amount you would get if you took each vitamin on its own.
To make a long story short, almost every single vitamin and mineral out there supports a healthy immune and nervous system. Maybe through different means, but any amount of research will show that this isn’t an uncommon characteristic. Basically, if our bodies are receiving the exact amount of each vitamin and mineral that they need in our diet or otherwise, our immune and nervous systems will be at prime capacity. Now let’s get into more of the nutritional and fitness related benefits unique to each supplement.
- B-12 is one of 8 different forms of vitamin B, each serving its own unique purpose. B-12 helps deliver oxygen to the muscles, assists your body in converting carbohydrates into glucose and metabolizes protein in the body. When choosing your vitamins, I’d say it’s a good rule of thumb to look for that particular characteristic: “METABOLIZES/SYNTHESIZES PROTEIN”. This means that without an adequate amount of B12, you're not reaping all the possible benefits of protein in your diet and therefore missing out on the physical changes you’ve worked so hard to earn.
- Vitamin D3 is the super vitamin. If you don’t want to take anything else, take D3. There isn’t much it can’t do. From improving athletic performance, maintaining and improving muscle function, decreasing fat in the blood, regulating hunger, and of course protein synthesis. D3 also is the essential piece in the nutrient absorption process. It ensures that not only other vitamins, but actual food is digested properly. D3 creates the essential layer between what goes in the body and how it’s used. Surprisingly, D3 is one of the most commonly deficient vitamins in the general population.
- Vitamin A is commonly known for its affects on our eyesight. Though it is enormously beneficial for vision, it can also be a vital piece of any fitness routine. Vitamin A synthesizes protein, repairs body tissues and muscle lining, and stimulates young sells to mature. Vitamin A also boosts testosterone in men which is crucial for building muscle.
- If you’ve ever felt under the weather, vitamin C was probably part of your medicine protocol. Vitamin C is our immune system’s best friend. Health experts have stopped just short of calling it the cure for the common cold. But Vitamin C can also be our muscle’s best friend. It feeds them with oxygen and helps to repair damage. It also turns your food into energy to fuel your workouts. What’s also interesting about vitamin C is how it adapts to the male and female reproductive systems. It helps regulate the female menstruation period and boosts testosterone formation in men. It’s recommended to take Vitamin C separately from Vitamin B because they compete for absorption in the body.
- Fish oil is all about omega-3’s. Omega 3 fatty acids have as many brain benefits as body benefits. They keep your metabolism moving, your brain working and your blood pumping. Fish oil helps burn body fat, regulate cholesterol, speed up recovery time, promote muscle growth, and make your fitness goals reality. The one downside is it takes your body a little extra effort and time to absorb fish oil so taking it right before a lot of physical activity isn’t the best. Take it early in the day with a solid meal.
- Last on the list, magnesium. If you are implementing any kind of physical activity into your routine, magnesium is a must. Like D3, most people don’t consume nearly enough magnesium every day. The mineral works it’s magic during your workouts more than any other time. It aids in muscle contraction, overall athletic performance, energy levels, and keeping inflammation under control. Your body loves magnesium at the gym more than during rest periods. When it comes to diet, magnesium synthesizes protein and fats, sending all the nutrients to all the right places. Magnesium is also at its best in the blood system, lowering blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Magnesium should be taken separately from calcium for maximum absorption.
Depending on your genetic make-up and nutritional needs, your vitamin regimen may have a few added to the list. Taking these on a daily basis has given me one more way to control my body and how it performs. It’s given me the tools to fight infection and fatigue, maximize my efforts in the gym and perfect my nutrition. So do some research, try things out and make your body happy with just a few simple vitamins.