Vitamins and minerals are key to taking your fitness up a level. If you want to get fitter, faster and stronger; taking the right vitamins and minerals can help strengthen bone, build muscle, prevent injury, and aid recovery — ideal whether you’re into cardio or resistance training.
There’s nothing worse than having to skip a workout session because of muscle strain or injury. However, there are steps you can take to ensure your body has the nutrients it needs to reduce risk and boost recovery during and after each workout. The importance of nutrition should not be underestimated, so check out how vitamins and minerals can help you push harder in your next work-out session.
Coenzyme Q10 and iron
Getting oxygen to each muscle group is critical when you’re pushing your body to its limits. Iron is responsible for transporting oxygen to your cells and removing carbon dioxide, so how well you recover between sets or sprints relies on how efficient your aerobic system is — and iron is a major part of providing adequate oxygen to working muscles.
If you take iron supplements, you could also avoid the development of ‘sports anaemia’ — which is a condition that causes fatigue during training. So, packing a dose of iron into your diet will help energise your work-out and prevent you from becoming exhausted mid-session.
While iron is essential for helping you keep going on the treadmill or between sets, there’s also another supplement worth considering for optimum energy. All our cells need a vitamin-like substance called coenzyme Q10. Some of this is found in food but most is produced within our bodies. However, the challenge is that our natural Q10 levels decline from our mid-twenties onwards. This means that a coenzyme Q10 deficiency can leave your muscles feeling tired and weak, increasing your chances of injury. Taking a Q10 supplement offers the potential to boost your energy levels and push you to the next level of your work-out regime.
Calcium and magnesium
Exercise — especially weight-lifting and HIIT training — puts massive strain on our joints and bones. So, keeping an eye out for supplements that help fortify and protect bones and tissue is crucial if you’re serious about fitness. Make sure you take daily calcium and magnesium supplements, to protect the 206 bones and 200 connecting joints that make up the human skeleton.
If you’re choosing a supplement, opt for one with the hydroxide acetate and carbonate forms of magnesium as they can be best absorbed by your body. Magnesium works in sync with calcium, so it’s important to achieve the right balance of these minerals if you want to capitalise on their benefits in the gym.
Although calcium is needed to boost bone strength, vitamin D supplements are vital to helping your body absorb calcium in time for your next work-out. If you don’t get enough vitamin D over time, your body can actually start drawing calcium out of your bones, which increases your chance of a fracture.
Up to 50% of adults in the UK are believed to be deficient in vitamin D due to lack of sunshine, according to research, so taking these as a supplement is crucial to delivering the amount your body needs to prevent bone and muscle weakness.
Vitamin E is often a nutrient that fitness fans miss. This nutrient helps blood flow around the body, delivering red blood cells where they’re needed to help with each muscle contraction during intense cardio and resistance training.
What’s more, vitamin E is proven to aid tissue recovery that can be damaged during heavy exercise sessions, which helps you keep on course with your workout schedule. Plus, it is commonly used by medical professionals to help people with muscle conditions including arthritis and cramp. On top of these pros, vitamin E is an antioxidant, which means it promotes muscle mass by reducing the amount of harmful free radicals in your system that hinder tissue growth.
Ever finish your lifting session feeling sore and in pain? Although this is expected when you’re training, you need to make sure you’re taking the right nutrients to keep your muscles safe and ready to go next time. Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that helps to protect against injury and improve recovery rates. Ingesting an omega 3 supplement can both prevent and alleviate strain injuries by keeping your joints and tissues well lubricated and reducing any inflammation. Another benefit of Omega 3 is that it can boost your body’s energy supply for a longer and more effective session. Daily supplementation with a high-quality fish oil, such as Bio-Fish Oil, is recommended for most athletes.
Pulling a muscle or tendon can cause you to miss multiple sessions at the gym, so anything that can help reduce this risk is worth considering when choosing the supplements you need. Vitamin Cis essential for maintaining healthy connective tissue across all your body’s cartilage and tendons, and helps alleviate muscle soreness for a smoother, less painful work-out. Even better, Vitamin C reduces the production of cortisol. This hormone is a headache for people who want to keep fit, as it:
- Decreases muscle recovery post work-out.
- Breaks down muscles to use for energy.
- Stores extra fat around the abdomen.
- Meddles with the transportation of nutrients to muscles.
Vitamin C helps to improve recovery rates between work-outs.
Silica and BSM
MSM and silica are essential for bone growth and excellent for aiding recovery from joint and nerve damage. According to a study carried out by the UCLA School of Medicine, 58% of athletes taking MSM for an injury reported a recovery compared to only 33% from a placebo group.
You can find MSM in fruit, vegetables and meat, while silica is plant-based and found in unrefined cereals and rice. However, the easiest way to get these into your body is via supplements, as these nutrients are readily lost from foods during food processing.
Giving your body essential supplements like these is vital if you’re trying to improve your health and fitness levels with exercise and training.