Vitamins - A Complete Guide


Posted: 22 December 2002

Vitamin Function(s) Food Sources Claim(s) of Supplements The Science
A Promotes healthy skin; essential for normal colour vision Vegetables and fruit; butter and margarine; liver and meat; eggs; whole milk and cheese; oily fish Maintains normal vision, healthy skin and mucous membranes Not involved in energy production; little evidence to suggest it can improve sporting performance
B1 (Thiamine) Involved in release of energy from carbohydrate; used for the normal functioning of nerves, brains and muscles Wholemeal bread and wholegrain cereals; beans, lentils and peas; pork; fruit; fortified breakfast cereals May optimise energy production and performance Involved in energy production; increased needs of athletes can normally be met in the diet; evidence doesn't suggest that high intakes enhance performance
B2 (Riboflavin) Involved in energy release, especially from fat and protei n Liver; milk, cheese and yoghurt; eggs; fortified breakfast cereals; green vegetables May optimise energy production Although exercise may increase the body's requirements, higher demands can usually be met through diet
Niacin Helps to convert carbohydrates into energy Liver, kidneys and red meat; chicken and turkey; nuts; milk, yoghurt, cheese; eggs; bread; fortified breakfast cereals Runners need more because it's involved in metabolism Not enough evidence to prove that high doses can help to improve performance; requirements can be met by a balanced diet
B6 (Pyridoxine) Involved in metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates Widely distributed in foods; potatoes; beef; fish; poultry; nuts; breakfast cereals Runners need more to meet their increased energy requirements Not enough evidence to prove that high doses can help to improve performance; requirements can be met by a balanced diet
Pantothenic acid Involved in metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates Liver; wholemeal bread; brown rice; nuts; eggs; vegetables Runners need more because it's involved in metabolism No evidence suggests high doses improve performance
Folic acid (B vitamin) Essential in the formation of DNA; necessary for red blood cell manufacture Liver; green vegetables; wheatgerm Helps overall well-being No studies have been carried out on athletic performance and folic acid
B12 Necessary for proper formation of blood cells Meat; fish; eggs; fortified cereals Can improve the body's oxygen-carrying capacity and enhance its aerobic performance; athletes have been known to use injections of B12 before competition in the hope that it will improve endurance Extra B12 has no effect on endurance or strength
Biotin Involved in the manufacture of fatty acids and glycogen, and in protein metabolism Egg yolk; liver; nuts; wholegrains; oats Although once known as the 'dynamite vitamin' among body builders, no specific role for biotin in sporting performance has been claimed The body can make its own biotin, so supplements aren't necessary
C Needed for production of collagen which is used in the structure of connective tissue and bones; promotes healthy blood vessels, gums and teeth Fresh fruits, especially citrus fruits, berries and currants; dark green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and peppers May help to increase oxygen uptake and aerobic energy production; intensive exercise tends to cause greater connective tissue damage, so runners need higher doses A deficiency lowers levels of physical performance, so an adequate intake is important. Exercise may increase requirements, yet these can be met by diet
D Controls absorption of calcium and phosphate; essential for healthy bones and teeth Fish oils and oily fish; eggs; fortified cereals; sunshine n/a Not so far shown to be beneficial to performance
E Protects tissues against damage; promotes normal growth and development Vegetable oils; wheatgerm; wholemeal bread; cereals; egg yolk; nuts; dark green, leafy vegetables May improve oxygen utilisation in the muscle cells Studies show supplements can have a beneficial effect on performance at high altitudes
Information obtained from: Runner's World archives, Boots, Solgar Vitamins, the British Nutrition Foundation and The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition by Anita Bean.


Previous article
Other Supplements - A Complete Guide
Next article
Supplementary Benefits?

vitamins
TwitterStumbleUponFacebookDiggRedditGoogle

Discuss this article

We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

Smart Coach
Free, fully-personalized training plans, designed to suit your racing goals and your lifestyle.