Vitamins and minerals may not have as much of an impact on your muscle-building progress as macronutrients, but still play a vital role in keeping you feeling fine and looking lean. Therefore vitamins for muscle mass are vital and without them, you could suffer from deficiencies and a weakened immune system, recovery and mental state – among other things. These are all functions that we need to take place for building muscle definition. Let’s talk about our 5 favourites for fierce gains.
Vitamins for Muscle Building
With our ever-expanding ambitions to increase strength and size, there are a few factors to consider. The first and most critical part we need to focus on is macronutrients. Without enough protein, carbohydrates and fat to fuel us every day, you can forget about multiplying your muscle mass. Micronutrients metabolise macronutrients into energy, bring our muscles oxygen to function, keep our bones strong, balance our electrolytes and much more. Vital vitamins and nutrients include:
Besides being needed to keep our bones strong and prevent injuries, calcium is also an electrolyte that is needed for proper heart, muscle and nerve contractions. When consumed in combination with vitamin D, they both become more bio-available and cells can absorb them easily. Some of the best sources of calcium include: milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products, as well as seeds (chia, poppy, or sesame), fish with bones such as salmon or sardines and beans or lentils.
Vitamin D is important for maintaining a healthy immune system, fighting off disease, boosting your mood and more. You can get vitamin D from sunlight, but if you live where this is limited, you should take a supplement. When taken with calcium and phosphorus, the benefits include the creation of ATP (our main source of energy when exercising), and will help with contracting your muscles more effectively. Some sources of vitamin D include: egg yolks, liver/organ meats, cheese, fortified milk, and fatty fish like tuna, salmon or swordfish.
This mighty vitamin is important for keeping our immune system on track, but its antioxidant properties go beyond just this. It has the ability to repair every cell in our body from stress, whether it is oxidative stress or muscle induced. Taking vitamin C directly after or during a workout might actually hinder your progress though, as it may prevent some cellular adaptations to exercise.
It will, however, help with muscle repair post-workout. It’s also when the muscles and joints become chronically inflamed that antioxidants are useful for healing them. How often you take vitamins for muscle building depends upon your diet, daily regime and personal needs. Some sources of vitamin C include: oranges, broccoli, white potatoes, tomatoes, kiwi, peppers, and pineapple among others.
Although women need more iron than men in their diets, both genders require this essential metal for many reasons. For muscle building, iron creates haemoglobin, the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen to cells. Making sure that your cells receive the oxygen is vital to cellular respiration which makes ATP (energy) for muscle function. So, start pumping iron in the kitchen to see results in the gym too.
Without an adequate amount of iron enough oxygen isn’t getting to the muscles and your performance will suffer dramatically. To increase absorption, iron should be taken with vitamin C in the same meal or supplement. Foods that contain iron are: beans, lentils, spinach or kale, red meat, chicken, organ meat, and fortified cereals.
Potassium is often overlooked, but it’s a very important electrolyte for ensuring good overall health. It acts as a countermeasure to sodium. When you consume too much sodium and not enough potassium, this is damaging. Your blood pressure increases, you risk the chance of a heart attack and stroke and your muscles can’t contract correctly. When potassium levels are low (hypokalemia), you can feel weak as cellular processes are impaired.
When a balance of potassium and sodium are consumed in your diet (around 3,000 mg of both daily) all of these side effects disappear, allowing us to exercise properly and effectively. Foods high in potassium include: sweet potato, bananas, beans, yoghurt, avocado, spinach and kale.
Take Home Message
Micronutrients ensure that you can work out hard and reap the benefits from your meals too. While every nutrient is essential in its own way, these 5 vitamins for muscles will help you to hit the gym hard.
If you do already eat enough foods with these nutrients, keep it up! If you don’t and for some reason you can’t because of a strict diet, multivitamins are a great alternative and enhancement to your diet. However you decide to consume these vitamins for muscle building, they’re sure to help you reach peak performance.