Walking down the supplement aisle can raise a lot of questions. Do I need a multivitamin? Can it really make a difference in my health and fitness routine? How do I know I’m choosing a good one?
Proper nutrition helps your entire body function better, so it’s crucial for overall health. But it doesn’t end there. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to health issues that can prevent you from achieving your fitness goals now and in the future.
But that’s where multivitamins come in. Here’s how taking a daily vitamin can make a difference in your energy levels, motivation, and your ability to work out safely and effectively.
Why You Need a Multivitamin for Overall Health
There are lots of good reasons to take a multivitamin each day. Your body needs the right nutrients to fight off sickness and disease and to regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
Vitamins and minerals are necessary for producing hormones that affect your moods, your fertility, and regulate your sex drive. Good nutrition is also essential for optimal energy levels and for maintaining healthy muscles, bones, and nerves.
Without proper nutrition, it’s difficult to focus and your memory might not be as good as it could be. The list goes on and on.
But, don’t you get all the nutrients you need from food? Not necessarily. Although a multivitamin doesn’t take the place of a healthy diet, it can eliminate any nutritional gaps in your diet that could be affecting your short- and long-term health.
No matter how careful you are about eating healthy, there will always be those days when you just don’t have the time or motivation to eat as well as you should. And, sometimes you need more nutrients than usual, such as when you’re sick, stressed out, or exercising hard.
Taking a daily multivitamin is like an insurance policy that ensures your body’s nutritional needs are met, no matter how hectic and busy life gets.
How a Daily Vitamin Can Make a Difference in Your Fitness Routine
If you’re a fitness enthusiast, there are even more reasons to take a daily vitamin. You already know that eating junk food and not getting enough sleep can really hurt your workout, but it’s important to realize that nutritional deficiencies can have similar and sometimes even more detrimental and long-lasting effects.
Nutritional Deficiencies Can Have a Dramatic Effect on Your Energy and Motivation to Work Out
Your body uses a complex system of metabolic pathways to deliver energy to your organs, muscles, and other areas of the body. These pathways contain a variety of substances, including vitamins and minerals, that relay energy from your organs to your tendons and muscles.
When your body doesn’t have enough of an essential nutrient, those metabolic pathways can become blocked, preventing your body from delivering energy where it’s needed. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies make your body work harder, which significantly decreases your energy levels.
Here are some examples of how specific deficiencies affect your energy levels:
Blood travels along your metabolic pathways and delivers energy to your tissues. When blood doesn’t circulate for even just a few minutes, those tissues begin to die, and low red blood cell counts harm your vital organs.
Hemoglobin is the component in your blood that carries oxygen. Your body requires a certain type of iron to create hemoglobin. If you are anemic, or iron deficient, it can have a major impact on your ability to work out because your body won’t have the oxygen it needs to energize your body.
Anemia can result in muscle weakness, extreme fatigue, and dizziness during daily activities, and especially during exercise. If you want to be at the top of your fitness game, you need to provide your body with enough iron to prevent deficiencies.
An iodine deficiency can affect your moods, leading to depression and a lack of motivation to work out. Iodine is also essential for proper thyroid function, which plays a role in many of the body’s key processes, including metabolism.
The thyroid controls how fast your body completes several key processes, including how fast your heart beats and how fast it digests food. If you’re not getting enough iron, these processes won’t be performed at optimum speeds.
A slow heartbeat can often be related to iron deficiency-related hypothyroidism, which causes oxygen to circulate throughout your body more slowly. So, not only does iodine deficiency suck away your motivation to work out, but it also robs you of crucial energy.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is more likely for those on a plant-based diet because it only comes from animal sources. In fact, studies show that as many as 85% of vegans and vegetarians are B12 deficient.
B12 deficiency can cause a condition called megaloblastic anemia, which is just as concerning as iron deficiency anemia. It leads to issues with your nerves and muscles, which can have a dramatic impact on your fitness routine.
Magnesium deficiency increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. It can also lead to increased body fat and a slower metabolism. Getting enough metabolism is crucial for meeting our overall fitness goals.
Your Body Needs More Than Protein to Build Muscle
Many fitness enthusiasts are all about getting lots of protein to build muscle, but they often overlook the importance of other nutrients. Without the vitamins and minerals your body needs to build muscle, all of that extra protein will be for nothing.
- Calcium: Calcium promotes proper muscle contraction. Being deficient makes your muscles work harder and can even cause tissue damage.
- Copper: Copper is essential for many body processes, including strengthening muscles and tendons.
- Zinc: Zinc is used to make testosterone, which is required by men and women for muscle growth.
Taking Vitamin D Supports and Speeds Recovery After Exercise
Vitamin D is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies among adult Americans, so taking a daily vitamin that includes this essential nutrient is something most of us can benefit from.
Since Vitamin D is essential for muscle recovery, a deficiency can keep you out of the gym and prevent you from meeting your fitness goals. It can also lead to bone weakness and increase your risk of stress fractures and osteoporosis.
Choosing the Right Multivitamin to Complement Your Health and Fitness Routine
Clearly, preventing nutritional deficiencies should be a top priority in any fitness routine. Here’s how to choose the right daily vitamin to round out your routine.
Start by shopping for organic vitamins that are made from natural ingredients because your body absorbs them better than synthetic ingredients. Avoid any product that contains preservatives, dyes, or artificial sweeteners.
Be sure to choose a complete formula that’s appropriate for your age and gender. Multivitamins are notorious for being large and hard to swallow. If this is a problem for you, consider choosing a chewable gummy vitamin that’s much easier to get down.
It’s also a good idea to consult with your doctor before deciding, especially if you are taking medication or have a health condition.