Hard training affects the status of a cer-tain group of vitamins, collectively known as the B-complex family. These vitamins are important for the proper metabolism of protein, carbohydrates, and fats; as well as for energy production. Research shows that if you’re deficient in B-vitamins, your physical performance will suffer. (1) So for optimum training and performance, you need a good supply of these nutrients, both from food and supplements.
What follows is a look at specific B-vitamins and how they relate to training status .Thiamin (Vitamin B-1)Found abundantly in brown rice and soybeans, thiamin is specifically involved in carbohydrate metabolism and nerve cell function. Men need 1.2 milligrams daily; women, 1.1.Higher doses (100 milligrams a day), however, may accelerate recovery from exercise-induced fatigue, according to re-searchers at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. They administered high-dose thiamin to a group of exercisers, and discovered that supplementation made the exercisers feel more energetic after completing a workout on the bicycle ergometer. (2)Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2)This vitamin is found in whole grains, soybeans, and green leafy vegetables. It is involved in enzyme-controlled reactions that produce energy for the body. Ribofla-vin also protects the body from disease-causing free radical damage in the body. Men require 1.3 milligrams daily; women, 1 .1 .Bodybuilders, exercisers, and athletes must be sure to get ample amounts, how-ever, because this nutrient is easily lost from the body, particularly in sweat. Exer-cise increases the body’s requirement for riboflavin.
(3)Niacin (Vitamin B-3)Besides its involvement in energy pro-duction, niacin plays a role in cholesterol and fat metabolism, which is why this nutri-ent is used therapeutically (as a prescription drug) to help lower cholesterol levels in the body. Food sources of niacin include le-gumes, whole grains, milk, eggs, and fish. If you’re deficient in this nutrient, you’re apt to suffer fatigue and muscular weak-ness. The recommended intake for niacin is at least 15 to 20 milligrams a day .Pyroxidine (Vitamin B-6)Vitamin B6 influences nearly every sys-tem in the body. For example, it assists in: metabolizing fats, creating amino acids (the building blocks of protein), turning carbohydrates into glucose, producing neu-rotransmitters (brain chemicals that relay messages), and manufacturing antibodies to ward off infection. You’ll find this nutrient in a number of natural weight-loss supplements — for a couple of reasons. First, vitamin B6 helps maintain the balance of sodium and potas-sium in cells — a balance necessary to properly regulate fluids.
Thus, vitamin B6 indirectly helps prevent water retention, a condition that can make you look and feel fat. Taking 100 mg of vitamin B6 one to three times a on a temporary basis is often recommended to reduce fluid build-up. Also, vitamin B6 helps regulate blood sugar. Swings in blood sugar can lead to food cravings and low energy. Finally, restrictive diets can deplete the body’s supply of vitamin B6, and supplementa-tion is extra insurance against a deficiency. Clearly, this nutrient is a behind-the-scenes player in many issues related to weight management .As someone who is active, you’ll be interested in knowing that extra vitamin B6 can help boost endurance. Research has demonstrated that supplemental B6 may improve VO2 max, a measurement of the body’s ability to use oxygen. (4)Hard exercise can rob the body of this nutrient. German researchers discovered that a marathon race can cause a loss of 1 milligram of vitamin b6 from the body – nearly a full day’s requirement. (5)Eating a balance diet, however, guards against such deficiencies. The best food sources of vitamin B6 include salmon, Atlantic mackerel, white meat chicken, halibut, tuna, broccoli, lentils, and brown rice.
The recommended intake for men is 1.7 milligrams a day; for women, 1.5 mil-ligrams .B-12Like other members of its family, this nutrient regulates many functions in the body. Among the most vital is the produc-tion of red blood cells. Vitamin B-12 di-rects this process, making sure that enough cells are manufactured. Without vitamin B-12, red blood cell production falls off, and the result is misshapen cells and anemia, which can sap energy. Vitamin B-12 can be obtained only from animal foods, including poultry, fish, eggs, and milk. The recom-mended daily intake is 2.4 milligrams.Biotin This B-complex vitamin is re-quired to activate specific enzymes in-volved in metabolism. Without it, the body can’t properly burn fats — which is why you so often find biotin as an ingredient in natural weight-loss products. Biotin also affects the body’s ability to properly me-tabolize blood sugar. In addition, biotin helps the body utilize protein.Although required in tiny amounts (30 mcg daily), biotin can be in short supply — for two reasons. First, the best sources of biotin in food are egg yolks and liver — two foods we tend to cut out because of their high concentration of cholesterol. Second, research verifies that active people often have lower levels of biotin than those who are sedentary. One theory is related to exercise. Exercising causes the waste product lactic acid to accumulate in working muscles. Biotin helps break down lactic acid. The more lactic acid that builds up in muscles, the more biotin that’s needed to break it down.
If you’re a regular exerciser, supplementing with biotin — either through a multi-vitamin formula or lipotropic supplement such as our Advanced Lipotropic Formula — of-fers an extra measure of protection against a possible shortfall. (6) Present in all living cells, choline helps prevent the build-up of fat in the liver and helps move fat into cells to be burned for energy. Additionally, choline is involved in the metabolism of nutrients needed for building muscle tissue. Choline is found naturally in eggs, fish, soybeans, liver, brewer’s yeast, and wheat germ. A few years ago, choline was recog-nized as an essential nutrient . The recom-mended intake is 550 milligrams daily for men and 425 milligrams daily for women.InositolInositol is involved primarily in making lecithin so that fat metabolism can proceed normally. Working together with choline, inositol helps prevent dangerous build-ups of fat in the arteries and keeps the liver, heart, and kidneys healthy.Your body can make inositol from glu-cose (blood sugar), and the nutrient is plentiful in whole grains. In fact, there is more inositol in the body than any other vi-tamin, with the exception of the B-vitamin niacin.
Too much coffee can deplete your body’s reservoir of inositol. This nutrient is available from whole grains, citrus fruits, brewer’s yeast, and liver. You get about a gram of inositol daily from food.Pantothenic Acid First recognized as a substance that stim-ulates growth, pantothenic acid is quite active in metabolism. It is a building block of CoA, a key enzyme that releases energy from foods. Pantothenic acid stimulates the adrenal glands and boosts production of hormones responsible for healthy skin and nerves. Foods rich in pantothenic acid include brewer’s yeast and whole grains. Cooking and food processing destroy up to 50 per-cent (sometimes more) of the vitamin.Pantothenic acid is so widespread in foods, however, that deficiencies are usu-ally not a problem. In addition, the vitamin can be made in the body by intestinal bacteria. Many multi-vitamin supplements also contain pantothenic acid . The recom-mended daily intake for adults is 5 to 7 mg daily .Getting Enough B’s In addition to the B-complex-rich foods mentioned above, supplementation is important for preventing possible short-falls, particularly in bodybuilders and other athletes. Various Parrillo Performance sup-plements are fortified with these nutrients, and these are listed in the chart below. For information on how to order these products, call our order line at 1-800-344-3404 .
1. Van der Beek, E.J., et al. 1988. Thia-min, riboflavin, and vitamins B-6 and C: impact of combined restricted intake on functional performance in man. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 48: 1451-1462 .
2. Suzuki, M. 1996. Effects of thiamine supplementation on exercise-induced fa-tigue. Metabolic Brain Disease 11: 95-106 .
3. Dam, B.V. 1978. Vitamins and sports. British Journal of Sports Medicine 12: 74-79 .
4. Vaughn, L. 1984. B6: a spectrum of healing. Prevention, June, 30.
5. Rokitzki, L., et al. 1994. Acute changes in vitamin B6 status in endurance athletes before and after a marathon. International Journal of Sports Nutrition 4: 154-165.
6. Mazer, E. 1981. Biotin — the little known lifesaver. Prevention, July, 97-102.