Vitamins are organic compounds required in small quantities to prevent clinical deficiency and deterioration in health, growth, reproduction and performance. Vitamins are quite effective in small quantities and play a key role in transformation of energy. Vitamins act as coenzymes in the enzymatic system of the body which act as catalyst for chemical reactions in the body.
Vitamins are classified based on their solubility: Fat-soluble vitamins (VitA, D, E, K) and water soluble vitamins (B-Complex and VitC)
Vit A,B,C,D,E,K are essential vitamins which mean they are not produced by the body and should be consumed through diet.
The tabel below is a summary of each essential vitamin, their major functions, best food sources and also the recommended amount to consume daily
Minerals are inorganic substance found naturally on earth. Based on their daily requirement by the body, minerals are classified as macro-minerals (>100mg/day required) (sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium) or trace elements (<20mg/day) (iron, zinc, copper, chromium, selenium). Several macro-minerals and trace elements are essential in exercise. Magnesium, iron, zinc and copper act as enzyme activator in glycolysis, oxidative phosphorylation and maintenance of acid-base equilibrium and muscle contractions.
The tabel below is a summary of each mineral, their major functions, best food sources and also the recommended amount to consume daily.
The daily requirement for some vitamins and minerals increase beyond normal levels in highly physical active people. The potential reason for this increased requirement are excretion through sweating and urine but also free radical production. However athletes should increase total energy intake and thus compensate for the higher vitamin and mineral requirement through increased intake of food. Therefore it is important to also increase the intake of fruit and veg and not only carbohydrates for energy and protein for amino acids, when increased dietary intake occurs. However some athletes fail to consume sufficient fruit and vegetables.
Most vitamins participate in processes related to muscle contraction and energy expenditure. Vitamins of the B complex group (thiamine, riboflavin, Vit B6, niacin, biotin and pantothenic acid) act as cofactor for enzymes regulating glycolysis, citric acid cycle, oxidative phosphorylation thus energy production and fatty-acid breakdown. While anti-oxidants (Vit C and E) participate as buffer system against free radicals, produced by exercise and energy turnover.
Physical performance can be effected even when micronutrient deficiency is only marginal. Supplementation of water soluble vitamins is associated with improved corresponding indicators in the blood. Moreover, supplementation of VitC may decrease stress response induced after very strenuous physical activity.
Still evidence for the benefits of vitamin and mineral supplementation on athletic performance are still limited. Therefore the answer lies in a healthy, well balanced diet to ensure sufficient vitamin and mineral intake. If you are on a restricted energy intake diet you might possibly need supplementation.
Please see the table attached to understand which vitamins and minerals plays which essential role in exercise and training.