There are Fats, carbohydrates and, of course, protein, but what about the vitamins? Sure, vitamins are important, every child knows that! But why? What vitamins do I need and why can't I just take a tablet?
I would like to explain these and other aspects of the vitamins briefly in the following, so that you can take optimal care of your body and feel fit and healthy.
What are vitamins?
Vitamins are organic compounds that your body needs for vital functions, but that your metabolism cannot synthesize itself. In other words, vitamins are essential substances, with two exceptions: Vitamin D (under sufficient influence of UV light) and niacin (this can be made from the amino acid tryptophan and thus depends on your eating habit). Thus, your body can only produce 2 of 13 vitamins itself, all the others you have to take active.
Since the vitamins are quite complex organic molecules, they do not occur in the in-animate nature and must first be formed by plants, bacteria, or animals. Basically, we distinguish between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins.
So much for an admittedly quite dry but simple representation of vitamins. Of course, our questions have not really been clarified, which is why I come directly to a question that I am sure you are asking ...
Do I need vitamins?
Short answer, of course! Vitamins are indispensable for the human organism and thus also for the function of the brain. Vitamins are involved in many reactions of your metabolism. Their task is to regulate the utilization of carbohydrates, proteins and minerals. They provide your body with degradation or conversion and thus also help to generate energy. They strengthen your immune system and are indispensable in the build-up of cells and blood cells, bones and teeth. Well, you already know it ... They are therefore also important for your successful training, because only a healthy and well-regenerated body can be trained repeatedly. It is therefore worthwhile for you to ensure an adequate supply of vitamins.
But what vitamins are there? ... What are they doing? ... And where do we find them?
Vitamin A and retinoids
They are especially important for your eyes, but also for the growth and development of your cells. Typical deficiencies are night blindness and impaired performance of your immune system. You will find vitamin A sources e.g. in eggs, dairy products, straps, green and yellow vegetables.
Beta-carotene (provitamin A)
It helps to maintain your cells. If necessary, it can be converted into vitamin A by your body. However, since your body cannot store beta-carotene in significant quantities, it must be supplied daily in sufficient quantities by you. You will find it mainly in orange, red and deep green vegetables, such as carrots, cabbage, spinach, peppers and tomatoes.
supports the formation of your bones and teeth and regulates the calcium and phosphate balance of your body. Vitamin D is one of two vitamins that your body can produce itself (under sufficient influence of UV light). Deficiencies include revenge in children and bone softening in adults. Sources of vitamin D can be found, for example, in dairy products and various types of fish, such as sardines and herring. The best way to produce enough vitamin D, however, is to enter the sun daily (10 to 15 minutes with fair skin).
has a whole range of tasks. It is involved in the formation of your muscles and other tissues. It also has an antioxidant effect and thus protects your cells, and it also prevents atherosclerosis. High doses of vitamin E can also relieve inflammation and resulting pain. The main source of vitamin E can be found in vegetable oils. You should note that wheat germ oil and sunflower oil contain vitamin E with much higher biological efficacy than soy oil, for example. Deficiencies may only show up to you after years, e.g. due to vascular changes.
Vitamin K1 and K2
Vitamin K1 is found in leaves of green plants, while vitamin K2 is formed exclusively by microorganisms, e.g. your enterobacteria. Vitamin K affects the clotting of your blood, as well as the calcium balance of your body. Deficiencies occur only in case of diseases in the intestinal area and in case of only parenteral nutrition (infusion). Especially vitamin K can be found, for example, in green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, etc.), beef liver, soybeans, green tea, egg yolks, oats, potatoes, tomatoes, butter, or even cheese.
Then there are the water-soluble vitamins:
Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism and thus for the production of energy from the diet. Deficiencies include sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, muscle pain or nausea. However, insufficient intake of vitamin B1 with food hardly occurs. In most cases, there are other causes for this, such as alcoholism. Vitamin B1 sources include peeled rice, yeast, whole-grain wheat, peanuts, peas, milk and corn.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
Good for your skin and eyes. You also need it for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and amino acids. The most noticeable deficiency is anemia due to disturbances of iron absorption and iron transport. Sources of vitamin B2 can be found in e.g. broccoli, mushrooms, cheese, leaf salads, yeast and milk.
Vitamin B3 (niacin/nicotine acid/nicotinamide)
is the second vitamin that your body can make itself. It is involved in the energy formation of your cells and ensures the right function of your nerves. Typical deficiencies occur only after prolonged niacin deficiency: Changes in the skin, inflammation of the mucous membranes in the area of the esophagus and intestines and thereby triggered diarrhea, impairments of the nervous system e.g. in the form of pain or numbness on the extremities. In the industrialized nations, niacin deficiency usually occurs as a result of alcohol abuse or certain diseases. In very high quantities you will find niacin e.g. in offal, salmon, wholegrain cereals or nuts.
Vitamin B5 (panthothenic acid)
The occurring in nature is almost everywhere. It is important for your metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and amino acids. In conjunction with vitamin C, a positive effect on wound healing was observed. Since panthothenic acid is found in almost all foods, panthothenic acid deficiency occurs very rarely. Deficiencies include headaches, fatigue, disorders in the gastrointestinal area, palpitations and poor wound healing.
plays a role in amino acid and protein metabolism. In addition, vitamin B6 affects the functioning of your immune system. Deficiencies include scaly changes in the skin, torn corners of the mouth, as well as redness and inflammation of the tongue and gums. Good sources of vitamin B6 can be found in bananas, cabbage, yeast, peppers, wheat bran and wheat germ.
Vitamin B7 (biotin)
Is part of enzymes and important for your metabolism of carbohydrates, fat and proteins. In addition, biotin promotes hair growth and has a positive effect on your skin. Deficiency symptoms occur very rarely and are usually the cause of metabolic disorders or very one-sided diets. You will find biotin e.g. in soybeans, liver or egg yolk.
Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
plays an important role in your cell structure. It also lowers homocysteine levels, which prevents cell damage and atherosclerosis. Deficiencies are very rare in a balanced diet. In certain cases, however, the need for folic acid is increased, e.g. in children during time of strong growth, pregnant women or in smokers. Consequences of a deficiency include disturbed blood formation and typical anemia as well as impairments of the intestinal mucosa. Folic acid can be found e.g. in nuts, leafy vegetables, cabbage varieties and field salad, Bananas or whole grains.
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)
is necessary for the formation and breakdown of certain amino acids. Deficiencies include anemia and neurological changes. There is a particular risk of not inadequately absorbing vitamin B12 for vegans, alcoholics and smokers. Natural vitamin B12 can be found exclusively in animal foods such as meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products.
is the king among vitamins and the most well-known vitamin ever. It is credited with a whole range of traits. The most important of these are undoubtedly the strengthening of your immune system and the antioxidant effect that contributes to the functioning of your cells. The deficiencies are collectively referred to as "scurvy" and consist in mucosal bleeding (especially on the gums), muscle pain and bleeding in the area of the joints. Especially older people and smokers often have too low vitamin C levels. If you mistreat, store, or prepare food, vitamin C can be destroyed and thus contribute to a deficiency. Vitamin C is particularly inexpensive to obtain in tablets or powder form. But beware, if you dose too high here, it can lead to diarrhea. Natural sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, potatoes, berries, cauliflower, tomatoes and kiwis.
But with all the vitamins, can't I just take a tablet and all is well?
If you eat a balanced diet, an additional supplement with tablets or powders is often not necessary. Of course, there are exceptions and risk groups that may or must work well with dietary supplements. We are talking about pregnant women, smokers or even competitive athletes who have an increased need for vitamins.
If you have detected a certain vitamin deficiency, talk to your doctor how and in what form you should supplement the vitamins. Because it is clear to support with a normal vitamin C preparation, especially in winter, can make perfect sense. However, there are preparations that make little sense in their composition or are underdosed, so they have no demonstrable effect on your body. You can then save yourself such kind of dietary supplements confidently.
Yes, but how much vitamins should I consume?
Are you male, or female? How old are you? What is your physical and psychological strain? Do you have professional or environmental stress? Do you smoke, do you have diseases and how much alcohol do you consume? Are you possibly pregnant or breastfeeding? All of these factors affect the level of your vitamin needs. All information you find is therefore always averages with a generalizing character.
Accordingly, the recommendations also vary: For example, the German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends eating 100 mg of vitamin C daily, while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends only 30 mg per day. The daily requirement for most vitamins is in the range of a few milligrams (mg).
So it's not that hard, if you stick to a balanced diet, you'll be able to meet your individual vitamin needs in most cases.
But here is a little rule of thumb for you:
Three handfuls of vegetables and two handfuls of fruit a day. Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products also provide important nutrients, such as vitamin B12.
So you can make sure you eat healthily and optimally for your sport.
Do you have any questions about nutrition? You want to lose weight, build muscle or just eat healthy? Then you're in the right place!
For more information on your individual situation, reach out to Constantin, your personal trainer in Beijing.