Vitamins and minerals are not the most exciting supplements, but to the body-builder, fitness enthusiast or serious weight trainer they are among the most important . Many governmental, medical and nutri-tional authorities suggest that vitamin and mineral supplementation is not necessary, and that you can get all the nutrients you need from eating a balanced diet, and while this might be true in the strict sense it is senseless in the practical sense. If you eat perfectly and do not engage in any strenu-ous exercise, then adequate vitamins and minerals may be derived from the foods we eat but think how much easier it to obtain all we need by taking a few inexpensive tablets each day?
And what about those of us who diet? How does the strict dieter make up for vitamin deficiencies? The an-swer is to supplement. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are relatively common. Most people don’t eat a “balanced” diet and this is true even for Parrillo-style bodybuilders who typically avoid fruits and dairy prod-ucts because of the high content of natural-ly occurring sugars. Eliminating fruits and dairy from your diet is one of the smartest things you can do to strip off bodyfat and maintain mass, but eliminating these two food groups removes some of the richest sources of natural vitamins and minerals. People who eat a balanced diet, as defined by the FDA, are still at risk for deficiencies because so many of our foods are refined, bleached and processed. In my opinion virtually every serious strength athlete or bodybuilder should be on a “core supplement” program that in-cludes vitamins and minerals, a high qual-ity protein supplement and Creatine Mono-hydrate.
I strongly believe (and continu-ally remind athletes) that wholesome food should serve as the bedrock foundation of any serious nutritional program. Body-builders will obtain astounding results in very short order if they use wholesome foods in combination with a core supple-mentation program . Supplemental protein for the serious weight trainer is a no-brainer. The scientific evidence is strong, persuasive and plentiful that those athletes who exercise vigorously need extra pro-tein. This is common sense backed up by decades of empirical data from the gym and scientific data from the lab. Tremen-dous gains in size and strength occur when high intensity weight training is combined with heavy protein supplementation. Two scoops of my Optimized Whey protein contain 33 grams of high biological-value protein, zero grams of fat, 3 grams of car-bohydrates and zero sugar – plus it tastes incredibly good. I usually recommend that the serious bodybuilder start by consuming 1 to 1½ gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight, spread as evenly as possible over 5-6 meals each day. When you pla-teau in training (poundage or muscle size) jump up to 2 or more grams per pound of bodyweight.
This plateau-busting method has worked for over a thousand individuals I have worked with personally in my 25 years of contest prepping top bodybuild-ers . So serious protein supplementation is a requirement if you are serious about progressing . Creatine Monohydrate is another nu-tritional supplement that is clearly valu-able to virtually everyone who trains with weights. The science is plentiful and the enthusiastic adherents are everywhere. It would be nearly impossible to consume enough Creatine Monohydrate from whole foods to consume the quantity necessary to trigger growth. Besides, with our modern high technology processing methods we can offer you a Creatine Monohydrate product so powerful that two small scoops contain the nutritional punch of several 6-ounce steaks without the saturated fat or the hassle of cooking. You can derive all the Creatine you need with a couple of scoops taken daily. The cost is pen-nies a day and the results are sensational .
Creatine Monohydrate has had the fastest growth curve of any natural supplement in the nation over the last few years, largely on word-of-mouth advertising by the users. The word is out: Creatine Monohydrate works! Many athletes have vitamin and min-eral deficiencies and aren’t even aware of it. Restricted diets, though effective at stripping fat, are often woefully short on vitamins and minerals. Your system needs vitamins and minerals to operate at peak efficiency and the solution to this problem is convenient, cheap and easy: use vitamin and mineral supplementation. I recom-mend one tablet of each of my products, Mineral Electrolyte Formula™ and Essen-tial Vitamin Formula™ to be taken with each meal. This way, the body is being continually refueled with the trace miner-als and potent vitamins it needs for growth and recovery from hard, mineral-leeching workouts. And at about $.10 a tablet, these products are one of the most economical supplements available on the market. Vitamins are divided into two general categories based on their solubility prop-erties (1-4).
The water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and the B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, and cobalamin), folic acid, pantothenic acid, and biotin. The fat-soluble vitamins are A, E, D, and K. Generally speaking, the water-soluble vitamins function as co-enzymes that bind to enzymes and make them active. Mostly they are involved in biochemical pathways that produce energy. The fat-soluble vitamins function (primar-ily) without binding to enzymes. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a critical vitamin for the serious weight trainer. Per-formance deficiencies for those who lack ascorbic acid have been documented for centuries. Sailors up until the 1800’s would routinely contract scurvy, a horrible wast-ing disease, as a result of diets lacking in vitamin C. They discovered that packing dried fruit on long voyages cured the prob-lem but until that fateful discovery many sailors died from vitamin C-depletion. (1). Vitamin C deficiency can cause shortness of breath and reduce endurance. Vitamin C has multiple functions in the body and many of these relate to physical activity. Vitamin C is required for collagen synthe-sis. Collagen is a structural protein within the body, the primary component of carti-lage, tendons, and ligaments. Weakness in these structures will reduce performance as well as predispose the individual to injury.
A little known fact is that vitamin C is required for the production of carnitine, a molecule that is required for fatty acid oxidation. Vitamin C deficiency can lead to impaired fatty acid utilization (1). Neu-rotransmitters require vitamin C for their formation and a deficiency can result in reduced nervous system function. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects cells from damage by oxygen radicals that are gener-ated in greater number during exercise. The current “recommended” daily allow-ance of vitamin C is 60 mg per day. This is sufficient to prevent the symptoms of overt vitamin C deficiency but is somewhat lacking for the hard working bodybuilder. Stress increases the requirement for vi-tamin C (1) and infection, smoking, and extremes of temperature or altitude (1) will deplete vitamin C within the body. It is suspected that exercise would also increase vitamin C requirements, although official recommendations for athletes do not ex-ist. Furthermore, C seems to be the best antioxidant protection. Food sources for vitamin C include specific fruits and veg-etables. Strawberries and oranges are fruits loaded with C and the best vegetables for C are green: bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, collared greens, spinach, and broccoli. One interesting scientific study tried to determine C requirements for athletes and found that athletes consuming 100 mg of the vitamin per day still had decreased blood levels after hard training. By up-ping intake to 300 mg per day normal blood levels returned (1).
Several studies have reported decreased urinary excre-tion of vitamin C in athletes, suggesting a relative deficiency. Several studies have shown an increase in exercise performance after vitamin C supplementation. One in-volved comparing supplemented and pla-cebo groups on a cycle ergometer. The group given 1000 mg of vitamin C per day had increased mechanical efficiency and wasted less energy than the placebo group. Other studies have shown vitamin C to reduce oxygen consumption, oxygen debt, VO2 max, and total energy expenditure. Vitamin C seems to play a major role in exercise endurance and prevention of fa-tigue. If your vitamin C level is low or mar-ginal, correct it and you will derive benefit. Supplemental vitamin C is a must! There is convincing data to show defi-ciencies in vitamins – thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine (B6), C, E, and iron are also detrimental to exercise performance (1). Thiamin, also called vitamin B1, is re-quired for energy production. Significant numbers of athletes and young people are thought to be low or marginal in thiamin (1). Exercise increases thiamin require-ments and thiamin is required for energy production.
The Krebs citric acid cycle needs thiamin and this critical vitamin is needed for the breakdown of branch chain amino acids. The Krebs cycle is the primary energy-producing pathway in cells and its smooth function is required to produce energy from carbohydrates, protein, and fat. The branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) are unique in that they can also be converted to energy within the muscle cell. Without thiamin, energy production comes to a standstill . The present guidelines suggest 0.5 mg per 1000 calories. This works out to be between 1.1 to 1.5 mg per day for most people . Food sources high in thiamin include pork, whole grains, beans, peas, and orange juice (1). Most other foods contain only small amounts of thiamin unless the food has been fortified with added vitamins. The Parrillo Performance Essential Vi-tamin and Mineral-Electrolyte Formulas are specifically designed for athletes and provide high levels of the B vitamins needed for cellular energy production. These supplements also contain high lev-els of the antioxidant vitamins C and E. The Parrillo formulations are a rich source of calcium, especially important for women. The scientific logic for vitamin and mineral supplementation is irrefutable, the cost negligible and the benefits are in-credible. So what are you waiting for?
1. Sports Nutrition: Vitamins and Trace Elements. Ira Wolinsky and Judy Driskell. CRC Press, 1997.
2. Sports Nutrition: Minerals and Elec-trolytes. Constance Kies and Judy Driskell. CRC Press, 1995.
3. Nutrients as Ergogenic Aids in Sports and Exercise. Luke Bucci. CRC Press, 1993
4. Nutrition In Exercise and Sport. I. Wo-linsky and J.F. Hickson. CRC Press, 1994 .