5 Best Vitamins for Athletes

Side view of active bearded sportsman drinking water from glass bottle while having rest and sitting on stairs in bright day

Vitamins and minerals are essential for healthy living across the board. This only becomes more true for athletes who overexert themselves regularly and require the wellness boost that vitamins provide. 

What vitamins are good for muscle health? Whether you can derive these vital nutrients from the food source you eat or have to take additional supplements to cover everything you need, this list contains the best vitamins for athletes, and how to incorporate them into your daily intake with ease.

#1 B Vitamins

Why are the B vitamins especially important to an athlete? The B-complex vitamins are integral to energy metabolism, each playing a vital role in turning carbs, fats, and proteins into usable energy. And if there’s one thing every athlete needs, it’s energy. 

Although most of the B vitamins add value to your daily routine, here are the three most important ones for anyone working hard, working out, and working to achieve their healthiest self:

  • Vitamin B6 – This super-vitamin is working almost as hard as you are. Not only does it convert the foods you eat into the glucose you need to power through the day, but it also facilitates muscle repair.1 Quick recovery between workouts means you can push yourself day after day with less risk of injury. The multi-faceted vitamin also manages energy use to make sure you have enough fuel for the entire day.

  • Vitamin B12 – Alongside B6, this is your body’s favorite energy booster. That’s because practically every cell uses vitamin B12. In fact, we need this essential vitamin to fight off fatigue and anemia. B12 supplements are especially important for vegans and vegetarians because of the vitamin’s low availability in plant-based diets. 

  • Niacin – This third and final energy source also assists with metabolizing carbs and fatty acids, but it’s especially helpful to athletes because it comes into play during high energy expenditure. Niacin, or vitamin B3, works double-time while you’re working double-time. It also helps repair and replicate cells, assisting with post-workout recovery.

  • These three powerhouse nutrients—and the rest of the B-complex vitamins—are all water-soluble, meaning your body regularly flushes them out with your urine instead of storing them for later.2 Your body doesn’t have a B-vitamin reserve to draw from when you begin exerting yourself, which is why daily B-vitamin supplements are so important for anyone with a deficiency.

    This way, athletes can replenish this much-needed energy booster and reap the benefits of increased stamina and power. 

    Easiest ways to consume B vitamins:

  • Dietary intakeWhat are the best foods that help you with muscle soreness? You’ll find the B-complex vitamins in large doses in animal products like seafood, poultry, and meat, particularly liver; dairy products and eggs; and a few green leafy vegetables, legumes, and cereals. For vegans and vegetarians especially, increasing your B vitamin intake can be difficult with just whole foods.

  • Supplements – Cymbiotika’s Regenesis includes essential B vitamins and cofactors with similar benefits, plus Synergy Vitamin B12 includes its namesake B vitamin, B6, and B9 (folate) for a power-packed daily dose.

  • #2 Vitamin C

    This go-to supplement seems to be everyone’s favorite cold remedy. But did you know that it can help athletes maintain healthy tissues and cells?

    Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. You’ve likely heard this term thrown around before but often in relation to skincare and general wellness. How exactly does it help athletes?

    • Oxidative damage protection – Antioxidants protect against free radicals, which lead to oxidative stress and damage, specifically interfering with our healthy functioning cells. Oxidative stress is a common side effect of prolonged sun exposure, smoking, and somewhat surprisingly, strenuous exercise. As vitamin C fends off the treacherous impacts of oxidative stress, it keeps our cells and tissues healthy, reducing the likelihood of connective tissue damage.4
    • Immune system booster – The reason people reach for multivitamins and Emergen-C during cold and flu season is that vitamin C is practically famous for bolstering immune systems. Our immune system is intricately linked to our muscle regeneration5, meaning healthy immune functioning can improve recovery time between workouts.

    Easiest ways to consume vitamin C:

  • Dietary intake – Foods high in vitamin C include tropical and citrus fruits, raw peppers, melons, strawberries, leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and more.
  • SupplementsSynergy Liposomal Vitamin C includes one of the most bioavailable forms of vitamin C plus vitamin E, bamboo silica, and organic natural oils.

  • #3 Vitamin D

    Athletes training and competing in track and field, golf, baseball, and other outdoor sports are not likely to suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. However, the top-tier athletes that spend hours on end training indoors without consuming adequate amounts of dietary vitamin D are much more likely to experience the negative effects that come along with that.

    Vitamin D deficiency can cause serious problems—on the flip side, that means that consuming vitamin D supplements can be seriously beneficial. Studies have shown that vitamin D plays an essential role in the following:

  • Optimal bone health – Most of us have been told before that calcium is necessary for strong bones and healthy bodies (probably from our parents urging us to drink more milk as kids). Adequate calcium consumption is important, but so is vitamin D intake, which allows our bodies to fully and properly absorb the calcium we need.6 Frequent stress fractures, illness, and musculoskeletal pain could all be signs of vitamin D deficiency.7

  • Peak muscle function – To perform at the top of your game, your muscles have to be working at their peak. Increased vitamin D intake has been shown to correlate with improved jump velocity, power, and height, as well as strength, exercise capacity, athletic performance, and physical functioning.7

  • Inflammation reduction – A healthy dose of vitamin D can help reduce the risk of swelling as well as pain and muscle weakness.7 

  • Injury prevention and prompt recovery – Inflammation and muscle cramps often hold athletes back, especially after strenuous workouts or matches. Vitamin D can reduce the risk of common injuries like stress fractures and shorten the period of recovery to help athletes get back on their feet earlier than before.

  • Easiest ways to consume vitamin D: 

  • Dietary intake – For natural food sources, try egg yolks, mushrooms, and fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines, and tuna.8

  • Natural sunlight – Encourage your body to produce vitamin D naturally by exposing yourself to the sun’s rays for about 10 to 15 minutes each day.

  • Supplements – If you have a vitamin D deficiency, daily supplements may be recommended by your doctor. However, direct sunlight is often considered the most effective way to increase your vitamin D levels.

  • #4 Vitamin A

    Most people associate vitamin A with vision. They’re certainly not wrong about that, but they might not have the full picture. Vitamin A is also imperative in maintaining healthy bones, tissues, cells, and the immune system.9 

    Much like with vitamin C, it can help improve recovery time after overexertion, both through its role in cellular growth and repair and because it’s another powerful antioxidant—not to mention the fact that everyone can benefit from this vitamin’s vision-boosting potential, athletes included.

    Easiest ways to consume vitamin A:

  • Dietary intake – There’s a lot of overlap between the best sources of vitamin A and vitamin C, including broccoli, red pepper, mango, cantaloupe, tomato juice, and more. Other dietary sources include sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin pie, and herring.

  • Supplements – Most people, especially those that enjoy a plant-based diet, will derive more than enough vitamin A from their daily meals. However, doctors may recommend daily vitamins for those with a nutritional deficiency.

  • #5 Coenzyme Q10

    While not technically a vitamin, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is often described as “vitamin-like” and has many of the same benefits to athletes. As far as we’re concerned, if it could help you reach your peak performance then it’s worth mentioning.

    Here are a few of the potential benefits of CoQ10:

  • Increased energy – CoQ10 is involved throughout the body in cellular functioning and energy production. It stimulates the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell), which increases not just the production of cellular energy but also its transportation throughout the body. In doing so, CoQ10 helps our bodies use energy more efficiently.10

  • Improved athletic performance – One study showed that participants who took regular CoQ10 supplements had heightened maximal oxygen consumption, which indicates improved cardiovascular fitness. They could also spend longer periods exercising before reaching exhaustion.11

  • Muscle growth and recovery – As another antioxidant, coenzyme Q10 protects against oxidative damage sustained through exercise. It can also stabilize the muscle fibers to protect against exercise-induced muscle injuries. And finally, CoQ10 has been shown to increase fast-twitch muscle fiber growth, which in turn increases the strength and size of the muscles more quickly.

  • CoQ10 is said to be especially effective for endurance athletes, including marathon runners, long-distance triathletes, rowers, and boxers. 

    Easiest ways to consume coenzyme Q10:

  • Dietary intake – Our bodies naturally produce coQ10 but can also benefit from foods high in the enzyme, such as oily fish, liver, and whole grains.13

  • Supplements – Cymbiotika’s Synergy D3 + K2 + CoQ10 Vitamin offers higher-than-usual absorption rates for this version of CoQ10 and helps mitigate oxidative stress and damage for hard-working athletes.

  • Cymbiotika: Achieve Your Peak Performance

    Vitamins and “vitamin-like” substances aren’t the only essential nutrients worth mentioning. For holistic support during both intensive workouts and post-exercise recovery, check out Cymbiotika’s full line-up of supplemental products.

    With top-notch natural ingredients and advanced absorption technology, our athletic recovery bundle will be the much-needed companion to your most intense competitions, your well-deserved rest periods, and every day in between.


    Sources:

    1. ReNue Pharmacy. Which Vitamin B Gives You Energy. https://renuerx.com/which-vitamin-b-gives-you-energy/ 
    2. StatPearls. Biochemistry, Water Soluble Vitamins. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538510/ 
    3. Healthline. 15 Healthy Foods High in B Vitamins. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b-foods 
    4. PeaceHealth. Vitamin C for Sports & Fitness. https://www.peacehealth.org/medical-topics/id/hn-3898006 
    5. Journal of Orthopaedic Translation. Skeletal muscle regeneration is modulated by inflammation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5892385/ 
    6. OrthoInfo. Vitamin D for Good Bone Health. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/vitamin-d-for-good-bone-health/ 
    7. Sports Health. Sports Health Benefits of Vitamin D. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3497950/ 
    8. Healthline. 7 Healthy Foods That Are High in Vitamin D. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-foods-high-in-vitamin-d 
    9. Live Science. Vitamin A: Sources & Benefits. https://www.livescience.com/51975-vitamin-a.html
    10. InsideTracker. Can Coenzyme Q10 Boost Your Energy and Fight Aging? https://blog.insidetracker.com/can-coenzyme-q10-boost-your-energy-and-fight-aging 
    11. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Effects of acute and 14-day coenzyme Q10 supplementation on exercise performance in both trained and untrained individuals. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2315638/ 
    12. Muscle & Performance. Cozying Up to CoQ10. https://www.muscleandperformance.com/sports-nutrition/cozying-up-to-coq10/  
    13. Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences. Coenzyme Q10: The essential nutrient. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-foods-high-in-vitamin-d



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