Micronutrients like vitamins and minerals are essential to normal cellular function and nutrient absorption. As well, they support growth and development of various tissues in the body including bones and muscle. Vitamins act as catalysts for many important bodily processes, thus it stands to reason that vitamin requirements go up under increased metabolism from heavy training. In many strength sports, intense training is commonly coupled with strict dieting— restricted diets tend to limit micronutrient intake, leading to vitamin deficiencies. Notably, it is well documented that a considerable proportion North Americans are deficient in one or more vitamins and minerals.
Vitamins and minerals play direct roles in brain function (e.g. via neurotransmitter synthesis, etc) as well as indirect roles, via their involvement in energy metabolism and the modulation of the brains blood supply. With regards cellular energy production, most of the vitamins (and a number of minerals) play fundamental roles in mitochondrial function— the major site for energy (ATP) production. In the end, vitamin and mineral deficiencies can have profound effects on focus, energy, and metabolism— all of which can significantly limit exercise and sports performance.
A recent randomized and placebo controlled clinical trial published in Nutrition & Metabolism tested the effects of acute and chronic (8 weeks) vitamin and mineral supplementation on brain blood flow and total body metabolism at rest and during cognitive tasks. It was concluded that supplementation with micronutrients, increased fat oxidation (up to ~20%), total body energy expenditure (up to ~10%) and cerebral blood-flow during cognitive tasks following a single dose, and increased energy expenditure following 8 weeks supplementation. Most notably, they reported that taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement containing 300% of RDA of water-soluble vitamins produced the greatest metabolic effects.
ACTION POINT: For men and women, we suggest using a high quality vitamin and micronutrient supplement formulated specifically for athletes. For best results, use products with high levels of vitamins B and C.
Kennedy DO, Stevenson EJ, Jackson PA, Dunn S, Wishart K, Bieri G, Barella L, Carne A, Dodd FL, Robertson BC, Forster J, Haskell-Ramsay CF. Multivitamins and minerals modulate whole-body energy metabolism and cerebral blood-flow during cognitive task performance: a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2016 Feb 11;13:11.