Growing up I’ve always been strictly told to “take my vitamins”. I remember being very young and watching my great grandmother open her cabinet full of vitamins and minerals. She would take multiple things which I had no idea if they were recommended by her doctor or not. Calcium, Vitamin B, C, D, and Fish Oil were the major ones that I remember seeing her take daily.
Growing up, I was given a children’s multivitamin (my favorite were the Flintstones ones). Now as a young adult who struggles to keep my diet healthy and to exercise regularly.. I like to take a daily multivitamin. I have not been told by my doctor that this is necessary but I feel like it helps keep me in a healthy state of mind. Almost like a routine.
- take my mutltivitamin with water
- drink 80 ounces of water
- eat 3 meals a day
Of course this is my healthy mind set each day sometimes I accomplish everything.. most of the time I do not. But, is my multivitamin the key to keeping me healthy? I do notice a difference without my “healthy routine”..especially in my energy level.
I have heard that exercise can alter vitamin levels but is that true? I was excited to cover this question last week in my sports and nutrition class. Here is what I found…
Exercise actually does alters vitamin B6 metabolism, but the amount is small and may be easily met through good food choices. In order to obtain adequate amounts of the B-Vitamins, nutrient-rich foods, like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats should be ate.
When thinking specifically about athletes or athletic individuals… those with poor diets, especially low calorie diets, should consider supplementing with a multivitamin/mineral supplement.
In general, current research suggests that exercise may increase requirements for riboflavin and vitamin B-6. But, more research is needed to determine if exercise increases the need for folate and vitamin B-12. Dietary Supplements and Sports Performance: Introduction and Vitamins indicates that vitamin supplementation is NOT necessary for individuals on a well-balanced diet.
Also, athletes involved in heavy training may need more of several vitamins, such as Thiamin, Riboflavin and B6 because of their involvement in energy production. The amount needed is only about twice the RDA (recommended daily amount).
So increased food intake associated with heavy training should solve this problem! But if your diet is poor and you are doing a low calorie diet you do need those extra vitamins in order to help your body receive the energy it needs to do WORK!
If your diet is poor supplementing can be helpful in preventing a vitamin deficiency. Vitamin deficiencies can definitely hinder your athletic performance. I would recommend getting a blood test if this is something you are concerned about and then going from there with a supplement plan. Many of the studies associated with this topic in my class..showed that women were much more likely to be at poor status for these nutrients. It is not clear if that is due to the physiology of women or that more women tend to be limiting their energy intake for weight loss or maintenance.
All in all, when it comes to active individuals who already have good nutritional status, there are no data to support improved exercise performance with vitamin supplementation. But, if a person has minimal nutritional status, supplementation may improve performance.
Athletes should not see supplementation as an “insurance policy”. If they stick to a well-balanced diet according to their training level they should receive everything that their body needs.
Of course there are situations where your body may need extra vitamins and minerals. These situations may include active people who consume low-energy diets, diets high in processed foods, or who restrict dietary intake of fruits, vegetables, or whole grains. Vitamin supplements may be recommended for certain individuals, such as elderly, vegans, and women of childbearing age.
Please ask your doctor before taking anything additional!