For years, I neglected vitamins and mineral supplementation or really paying attention to all the vitamins and minerals in my daily diet!
It was until I started paying real attention to my diet that’s when I started to notice and feel real change in my muscle building, and performance in the gym.
Getting in the right vitamins & mineral is especially important when you’re following a vegan lifestyle as I do. Now, if you want to know which vitamins and minerals are key to build muscle and help performance in the gym, keep on reading!
Are you getting in the right kinds of protein if you’re vegan?
How can vitamins aid in muscle building?
I always thought muscle building was just about getting in enough protein and hitting your macros on a daily basis…
Well, I was wrong. It turns out your micronutrients play a key role too in your muscle-building process.
Of course, your macronutrients are more important than hitting your daily micronutrients, but your vitamins and mineral play a big role in overall health, recovery, and performance in the gym.
Vitamin and minerals are small substances that are in our daily food. Most act as a co-enzyme, which means that these enzymes can accelerate or slow down chemical reactions in and around our cells.
For example, vitamin D helps with the contraction of muscles. We all know how important it is to fully activate the targeted muscle.
You could believe me for my word, but it’s only when you experience it for yourself that you actually believe it!
The most important Muscle building vitamins & minerals
Now, which vitamins and minerals are actually important for bodybuilding and muscle building?
Even if you’re not into bodybuilding you should, of course, maintain a healthy diet, but some vitamins can have a serious effect on your muscle-building experience!
These bodybuilding vitamins and minerals are:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B, (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
I know it’s a long list, but I highly suggest reading them all carefully, as they can seriously benefit you!
Vitamin A (Fat-soluble Vitamin)
According to NCBI, Small amounts of vitamins are required in the diet to promote growth, reproduction, and health. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are called fat-soluble vitamins because they are soluble in organic solvents and are absorbed and transported in a manner similar to that of fats.
Vitamin A is also known as retinol and is used a lot in products for skin skare. But vitamin A is also a great source to keep your immune system going and aids in good healthy vision!
Best sources: liver, butter, whole milk, and egg yolks. The body also has the ability to convert certain carotenoids, especially β-carotene, to vitamin A.
Carotenoids are present in dark-green, leafy vegetables and in yellow and orange vegetables and fruits. In addition, skim milk, margarine, and certain breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin A.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Vitamin B1 is a very interesting one and one that is in my opinion neglected by non-vegans.
Vitamin B1 helps with utilizing the carbohydrates you take in on a daily basis! Utilizing the nutrient as energy.
Another main purpose of this nutrient is to promote a healthy nervous system where it will help maintain proper nerve transmission throughout the cells.
The reason why I mentioned non-vegans is that Vitamin B1 is commonly found in black beans and lentils. They are an excellent choice when it comes to protein, and bodybuidling vitamins, and minerals!
You can supplement this vitamin, or get it through the foods below!
Other ways to get it: Yellowfin tuna, sunflower seeds.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin helps the body break down and process the three macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats), as well as promoting a healthy skin complexion.
Without Riboflavin your body wouldn’t be able to properly release energy from carbohydrates. That is significant beyond high-intensity exercise; energy from carbs is the major fuel for our brains. So come up short in riboflavin, and expect a case of brain fog.
Best sources for Riboflavin: Milk, bread products, fortified cereals, and organs meats, or a supplement.
Calf’s liver is a great source of vitamin B2, which supplies you with over 100% of your daily needs.
Niacin is the 3rd B vitamin and also plays a big role in energy production and maintaining the nervous system. Some benefits of Niacin for bodybuilding are:
- Improves vascularity
- Increase of the production of growth hormone (long-term use)
- It helps the body to convert carbohydrates into glucose
- Vitamin B3 regulates cholesterol levels
- Improves digestion
- Helps to discharge excess vitamins
Currently, the current recommended dosage of Niacin (Vitamin B3) in every human consumption is between 14 mg -16 mg per day.
Ways to get it: Chicken breast provides you with 72% of your daily recommended Niacin intake. Other good options are yellowfin tuna, halibut, turkey breast, or try a supplement
yes, I know another B vitamin…Second to last, but this might be the most important one yet!
Vitamin B6 is an essential vitamin as your body isn’t able to produce it itself, that’s why you need to supplement it.
Pyridoxine (B6) is important for the growth of new cells used to process and metabolize carbs, protein, and fats.
This vitamin is especially important for women as it regulates hormones and assists in immunity.
Vitamin B12 plays a part in forming red blood cells and converting food into energy. It also ensures that the brain and muscles communicate efficiently, which affects muscle growth and coordination. Due to the brain and muscle commincation makes this vitamin an essential bodybuilding vitamins.
Vitamin B12 is essential for the maintenance and support of most of the vital processes that keep our bodies vibrant and healthy every day.
How much do you actually need?
Only 5mg can be stored in the liver at once. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you consider that we only use 0.2% of that on a daily basis it’s actually quite a lot!
Ways to get it: Meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, or supplements
Vegans and B12:
Well-absorbed forms of vitamin B12 are only readily available in foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, but many foods such as non-dairy milks, cereals, spreads, and nutritional yeast flakes available in a plant-based diet are naturally fortified with B12.
This powerful antioxidant helps metabolize carbs for fuel and protects the body from exercise-induced oxidative stress. It also helps the body absorb iron and protects against energy-sapping infections.
Best sources: strawberries, brussels sprouts, broccoli, blackcurrants, red and green bell peppers, and papaya, which offers over 300% of your daily needs in a two cup serving.
Calcium is well known for its ability to make your bones and teeth strong, but that’s not the only thing it’s good for. Calcium is very important in this list of bodybuilding vitamins and minerals as it helps with muscle contraction and energy metabolism!
Research shows that a lack of calcium can also trigger the release of calcitriol, a hormone that causes you to store fat.
Best sources: Cheese, almonds, sesame seeds, sardines, yogurt
Best vegan options: fortified unsweetened soy, rice and oat drinks, calcium-set tofu, sesame seeds and tahini, broccoli, and almonds.
Vitamin D is very important for the mineral, calcium. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus.
As mentioned earlier, calcium is essential for muscle contraction and phosphorus is involved in the synthesis of ATP, the useable form of energy in the body. So vitamin D plays an essential role in a bodybuilding vitamins.
You can get vitamin D through direct sunlight, but in places where you don’t get enough sun, it’s also smart to supplement it, or get it through the foods below!
Best ways to get it: fortified milk, salmon, whole eggs, yogurt, sunflower seeds, shrimp.
One glass of fortified milk gives you 25% of your daily calcium and vitamin D needs, so drinking milk regularly is a good option!
Vitamin E is a nutrient that acts as an antioxidant that helps with maintaining a healthy immune system, a healthy immune system aids in good overall health.
Vitamin E plays a big role in muscle repair. We all know that when we’re trying to build muscle we tear our muscle tissue and let it recover and then grow, but what happens when our body doesn’t repair itself?
That’s when vitamin E comes in, studies have shown that without vitamin E, the plasma membrane can not properly heal. The plasma membrane controls what is going in and out of your cells.
That’s a big problem for many cells, such as muscle cells, which get membrane tears just from being used. This reason makes it one of the most important vitamin in the bodybuilding vitamins list
That’s why it’s very important to either supplement with vitamin E, or get it through these foods below!
Best ways to get it: Your best choice would be to get it through sunflower seeds, as a quarter cup provides you with almost 90% of your daily needs. Other good choices are almonds, olives, spinach, papaya, red bell pepper, peanut butter, and pumpkin.
Vitamin K is one you probably haven’t heard of much, neither did I when I first started out, but it’s actually very important.
Vitamin K is a group of vitamins that the body needs for blood clotting, helping wounds to heal. There’s also some evidence vitamin K may help keep bones healthy.
Best ways to get it: Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, Swiss chard, mustard greens, parsley, romaine, and green leaf lettuce. Vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Fish, liver, meat, eggs, and cereals (contain smaller amounts)
Magnesium is an essential nutrient that any bodybuilder should focus on in their diet or supplementation! This mineral is seen as the holy grail for optimal health, and bodybuilding vitamins, here is why.
It can seriously aid in relaxing the muscle, preventing cramps, and aid in the production of the insulin-like growth factor, which is an essential part of long-term muscle growth and strength.
Magnesium can also help to balance and control stress hormones, build strong bones, maintains heart health, helps to prevent diabetes by regulating blood sugar, prevents inflammation and strokes, boosts immunity, preserves a proper PH balance in the body, and relieves constipation!
You can choose to either supplement it or get it through the foods below!
Biotin plays an important role in maximizing the macronutrient your body receives, such as converting your carbohydrates into energy.
Unfortunately, there aren’t that many foods that contain high amounts of biotin, but there a few, such as peanut butter, oats, egg yolks, hazelnuts, almonds.
Your bet would be to go with a good multivitamin that contains this nutrient!
Muscle contraction and muscle relaxation require that potassium be present in the blood. No surprise, for the fastest reflex time your potassium levels must be optimal before training.
Potassium also ensures muscle tissue growth. Without potassium, the energy released during metabolism cannot be used by the muscles. That’s why this is an essential bodybuilding mineral.
You can supplement this, or get it through the foods below!
Best ways to get it: Bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, grapefruit (some dried fruits, such as prunes, raisins, and dates, are also high in potassium) Cooked spinach. Cooked broccoli. Potatoes. Sweet potatoes. Mushrooms. Peas. Cucumbers.
Omega-3 is one of the most know vitamins for optimal overall health, but it’s actually very much essential as a bodybuilding vitamin.
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids because our bodies are not capable to make them on their own. That’s why need to get it through our diet.
Omega-3s found in fish oil can be very beneficial as a bodybuilder, as your body goes under a lot of stress, especially your joints. Training hard and a heavy day in and day out can be very hard on the body and omega-3s can help a lot with keeping your joint and bones healthy.
You don’t have to take fish oil if you get your essential fatty acids through your diet. They can be found in fatty fish, whole eggs, nuts, and seeds, like chia seeds, walnuts, almonds, different types of oils, or a supplement.
If you’re vegan you can try this supplement.
This is an essential trace mineral that has been shown to boost the immune system, fight cancer and prevent heart disease. It can also maintain your mood, prevent depression and impede free radical damage from weight training.
Best ways to get it: Fresh tuna, sunflower seeds, wholemeal bread, brazil nuts
Zinc enables your body to produce muscle-building testosterone.
It also promotes recovery from exercise, boosts fertility and increases your number of infection-fighting T-cells.
You can get this though a supplement, or witht he foods below!
Best ways to get it: Red meat, eggs, pulses, pumpkin seeds, cheese
For the best muscle-building results you need a well-balanced diet plan. Focussing on your macronutrients, but also paying close attention to your micronutrients.
For optimal micronutrient intake make sure you have a diet plan filled with good healthy sources of meat, dairy, and vegetables.
If you struggle to get in the right amount of vitamins and minerals then supplementing is a great idea!
For any questions related to bodybuilding vitamins and minerals please don’t hesitate to send me an email, or leave a comment below!