In order to train hard and look your best, proper nutrition is essential. However, simply getting enough calories, protein, fat, and carbs is not enough.
A vitamin deficiency can wreak havoc in your progress. Here are some guidelines for spotting whether you might need a boost in some specific areas.
If you aren’t getting enough iron in your diet, your body begins to lack oxygen. The resulting anemia and fatigue can feel like not being able to get enough air, which is the last thing you need when you’re trying to power through a workout. If everything else seems to be in check but you are more fatigued – or are recovering more poorly from workouts – than makes sense to you, increase your iron levels with beef, spinach, oysters, and consider adding a multivitamin that meets your daily iron needs.
When you’re exercising regularly, your appetite should be big. A loss of appetite is one of the most common signs of a magnesium vitamin deficiency. Without an appetite, you may not be able to make yourself eat enough to have adequate fuel, which could result in muscle loss and poor workouts.
Insufficient magnesium can also result in weakness. If you’re getting enough sleep and calories, and yet, you still feel weak in the gym, magnesium could be the culprit. An inordinate amount of muscle cramping can also be a sign of low magnesium. If any of these apply to you, increase the amount of cashews, peanuts, and edamame that you eat, all of which are high in magnesium.
If you have a vitamin deficiency from the B group, particularly vitamin B12, there is a high chance that your body is not mending itself as quickly as it could after muscle injuries and strains. Vitamin B12 helps the body repair itself. If you have a B12 deficiency, even the normal recovery needed after a good workout can be impaired, increasing the time it will take to get back to the gym and performing at a high level.
If your injuries seem to be taking longer than they should to heal, you can up your vitamin B12 intake with products from many animal sources. Eat more chicken, yogurt, and milk. Pay close attention to how your injuries respond.
Most people work out and try to eat healthy in order to stay trim and maintain a low level of body fat. People who have a vitamin deficiency of vitamin D are more likely to remain obese, no matter what their diet and exercise might look like. It’s frustrating to know that you’re putting in the work but not seeing the results.
If you are having a harder time than normal losing weight, or you feel like you should be seeing better results with your weight than you are, take a look at your vitamin D. The easiest way to increase your vitamin D is simply to get 10 minutes of sunshine each day. A 2016 study in Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences stated that vitamin D also contributes to the prevention of musculoskeletal breakdown, which has useful implications for committed gym-goers. Anything that will preserve the musculature and connective tissues will lead to greater training longevity.
Various vitamin deficiencies share overlapping symptoms. Fatigue, slowly healing injuries, and loss of bone density are common. As such, it can be challenging to pinpoint a specific vitamin that you might not be getting enough of. However, there is an easy way to cover your bases: invest in a daily multivitamin whose purpose is to give you enough of every vitamin and mineral you need for optimal health. A good multivitamin, combined with proper nutrition, will ensure that you’re not missing out on anything you need to perform (and look) your best.