Micronutrition plays an essential role in health and the importance of vitamins is paramount. The current diet is not conducive to covering our daily needs and deficiencies are increasing. Supplementation will be beneficial, especially for athletes with a naturally greater need.
- What are vitamins?
- Why do athletes have greater vitamin needs?
- The benefits of vitamins for athletes
What are vitamins?
Vitamins are essential elements to ensure the proper functioning of the body . Yet they cannot be synthesized by the body. It is therefore imperative to provide them through food.
However, generally, the foods consumed do not provide the full range of vitamins in sufficient quantities that the body needs. Hence the interest of supplementation to avoid deficiencies that reduce the efficiency of metabolic reactions essential to health and physical fitness.
Vitamins are of paramount importance for both athletes and sedentary people, as they play an indispensable role in the development of physiological functions. Vitamins are essential for:
- carrying out many metabolic reactions (building muscles, bones and skin)
- good assimilation of nutrients
- energy production available in the body
Why do athletes have greater vitamin needs?
Athletes and more particularly those who practice strength sports have higher energy needs . Athletes who train regularly and/or intensely mobilize their vitamin reserves more. This explains why the latter are generally in a situation of deficiency , especially if they carry out a hypocaloric diet.
However, vitamins are essential to maintain good physical performance , because they notably help to strengthen the immune system and better fight against oxidative stress produced during training. Vitamin supplementation takes on all its interest in helping the sportsman to stay in good health, to improve his performance and to limit his deficiencies while respecting the caloric intake that he has set for himself.
The benefits of vitamins for athletes
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, ie it can be stored in fat and therefore does not need to be present in the diet every day. It is important for maintaining a good immune system, for growth and vision.
Vitamin A is very important for athletes, because it has antioxidant properties allowing them to strengthen their immune system and better resist oxidative stress caused by training. The phenomenon of oxidative stress is explained by the production of free radicals (intensified during training) which are aggressive molecules attacking cells. This can lead to muscle damage after exercise. This is where vitamin A comes in, whose antioxidant benefits create a “protective shield” against free radicals.
Vitamin A thus allows athletes to maintain their performance over the long term.
Group B vitamins
There are 8 B group vitamins : B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B8, B9 and B12. We will explain to you how each contributes to health and the improvement of sports performance.
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) is water soluble, which means the body cannot store it. It is therefore essential to bring it to the body every day through food. This vitamin has an essential role in energy metabolism by helping in particular to convert glucose into energy. Normal vitamin B1 levels also help ensure good neurological function.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) also plays a role in energy production and also has antioxidant properties .
Vitamin B3 (niacin) plays an important role in cellular energy production . This vitamin can also act as a vasodilator of blood vessels. In addition, vitamin B3 has the ability to reduce homocysteine levels and therefore reduce the risk of developing heart disease . Finally, vitamin B3 can also help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) plays an important role in the metabolism of nutrients and in the synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter allowing muscle contraction.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) plays a role in carrying out more than one hundred enzymatic reactions related to protein synthesis.
Vitamin B8 (biotin) plays a role in glucose and fatty acid metabolism , two important elements in performing endurance exercise.
Vitamin B9 (folic acid) plays an important role in the normal formation of DNA and red blood cells. Normal levels of vitamin B9 also allow good oxygenation of the muscles and therefore the maintenance of good physical performance.
Vitamin B12 reduces oxidative stress and thus improves the athlete's recovery . This vitamin also promotes cardiovascular health by regulating homocysteine levels in the body. Finally, vitamin B12 plays a protective role for the nervous system thanks to its beneficial effects on nerve regeneration.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin known for its antioxidant properties and its protective effects for the immune system . Vitamin C is also essential for the body to synthesize collagen , l-carnitine and several neurotransmitters . All these elements are crucial for the athlete: indeed collagen is a protein representing 25 to 35% of the protein content in the body. As for l-carnitine, it is an amino acid necessary for the conversion of fatty acids into cellular energy. Finally, neurotransmitters are essential for the transmission of nerve flows.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be obtained by exposure to the sun, hence the interest of supplementing this vitamin in winter. Athletes who are generally deficient in vitamin D, however, have a great need for it . Indeed, it helps to develop more physical strength during training, is associated with the production of testosterone and also stimulates fat loss.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored by muscles and by adipose tissue. This vitamin known for its antioxidant properties is a valuable ally to protect against free radicals. This allows the athlete to better withstand the effort and better recover after training . Vitamin E thus makes it possible to reduce muscle degradation and minimize aches linked to effort. Vitamin E also strengthens the immune system and protects the nervous system. Through all these mechanisms, it therefore contributes to the improvement of sports performance.
There are two forms of vitamin K: K1 and K2. Both of these forms are important, however vitamin K2 is particularly effective in strengthening bones and is very important in combating inflammation and joint pain .