Vitamins and Minerals Part I – Vitamins

Vitamins in foodVitamins and minerals are something you take every day, in the food you eat and even the water you drink. Vitamins are all in some way vital to your well-being – hence the ‘vit’ part – and a deficiency in any of them will lead to health problems and possibly, ultimately, death.

I apologize, that wasn’t meant to get so serious, so quickly. Moving on. Vitamins are organic in nature and Minerals are inorganic. They are essential, and by that I don’t just mean you need them, even though you do.

‘Essential’ in the world of nutrients means that we must source them from our environment, mainly our food, because our bodies cannot either produce them at all, or in enough numbers to be sufficient.

It’s probably fair to say that a lot of people don’t know what each of the vitamins and minerals are or what they do. I won’t lie, I don’t either. Strange really, considering their absolute necessity to our health.

The fact is, there are many of them, too many for a non-genius like myself to remember every single one. However, in the spirit of our underlying theme at – the pursuit of our physical best – it may do you good to at least understand the vitamins and minerals that help us maintain a healthy platform from which we can improve our body composition and maximize our physical (and mental) performance.

If nothing else, vitamins turn up in the supplements we review quite often. Instead of looking at the recipes of those supplements and scratching your head, we may be able to clear things up a bit.

You can read about Minerals in Part 2 by clicking this link.

A Simple Rule

Vitamin namesVitamins and minerals cannot really be viewed as ergogenic (that which improves physical performance) in the strictest sense of the word. A deficiency in them, however, can definitely hinder you.

With that, let’s start with ‘A’ and go from there.

Vitamin A – retinol

Involved with:

  • cell growth and development.
  • vision
  • immune system
  • minor anti-oxidant

Performance related: optimal levels can reduce oxidative stress during high intense exercise

Vitamin B1 – thiamin

  • glucose metabolism for energy
  • hear, muscle and nervous system cell function

Performance related: may ward off exercise induced fatigue

Vitamin B2 – riboflavin

  • carbohydrate metabolism for energy
  • production of red blood cells

Performance: deficiency will reduce aerobic exercise capacity

Vitamin B3 – niacin

  • conversion of food to energy in cells
  • highly active in muscle function

Performance: too much or too little can hurt performance. 16mg is the RDA for men over 19 and 14mg for women (recommended daily allowance) though it could vary person to person depending on activity level etc.

Vitamin B5 – pantothenic acid

  • metabolism of the macro-nutrients (fats, carbs and protein)
  • muscle energy production
  • synthesis of neurotransmitters

Performance: reduces buildup of lactic acid during exercise

Vitamin B6 – pyridoxine

  • red blood cell production
  • protein metabolism

Performance: red blood cells carry oxygen to the working muscles and brain

Vitamin B7 – biotin (aka Vitamin H)

  • amino acid metabolism
  • fatty acid metabolism

Performance: reduction of fat and energy production

Vitamin B9 – folic acid

  • production of cellular DNA
  • production of red blood cells

Performance: deficiency will cause serous depletion in performance and health

Vitamin B12 – cobalamin

  • functioning of central nervous system
  • production of red blood cells

Performance: deficiency leads to physical impairment and possibly debilitation

Vitamin C – ascorbic acid

  • metabolism
  • bone strength
  • formation of collagen
  • vascular system stability
  • important anti-oxidant (water soluble)

Performance: stops free radicals left after oxidation as they can harm cells and hinder performance

Vitamin D – calcitriol

  • interacts with genes
  • many roles in muscle, bone and nervous system

Note: found in some foods but principally synthesized when you are exposed to the sun. Remember to apply the sun cream though!!

Performance: when plasma Vit D levels are within optimal range, performance is improved

click here to read more on Vitamin D

Vitamin E – tocopherols

  • red blood cell function
  • important anti-oxidant (fat soluble)

Performance: reduces oxidative stress during exercies

Vitamin K – phylloquinone

  • health of bones
  • growth of cells
  • hematological function

Note: it is rare for someone to be deficient in Vitamin K


  • fat metabolism
  • cell signalling
  • function and stability of cell membranes
  • helps synthesize the neurotransmitter acetylcholine

Performance: Choline’s involvement in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine makes it very important for cognitive capacity during a workout. The link between choline and motivation, drive, and something people call mind-muscle connection is why you will find it in some ergogenic supplements.


multi vitaminHopefully, it goes without saying that I recommend you take a base multi-vitamin every day with your breakfast.

Multi-vitamins don’t supply you with the whole RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) so don’t go thinking you are taking one, so you’re covered. They are there to ensure you do not slip into serious deficiency. They are a great base for the rest of your nutrition plan.

If you exercise regularly, particularly strength work, high intensity stuff or endurance, you are almost in need of a dietary multi-vitamin. And now that you know a little more about how they affect your performance, you might make your meals more nutrient dense (nutrient density is a whole other article, I think) and give yourself the best chance at performing at optimum levels.

GH booster ingredientsYou may also benefit from one of the several supplements we recommend on this site. You can follow the link below to read our summarized review of these.

Remember that if you are taking a multi-vitamin, you can go for the pure supplement based products rather than the ones that provide vitamin and mineral support as well. We try as best we can to highlight when this is the case.

Click here to read about the best training supplements available