A Bodybuilder’s Most Valuable Vitamin: Are You Getting Enough?
Everybody knows that consuming sufficient amounts of vitamins through their diet is an important way to maintain overall health and to keep the muscle building and fat burning processes functioning optimally.
If you are deficient in just a single vitamin, it can potentially have negative effects on literally thousands of different processes within your body.
While every individual vitamin plays an important role in the overall picture, there is one that definitely stands out among the rest... especially when it comes to the specific needs of a hard training bodybuilder.
I'm talking about the water-soluble Vitamin C; the one vitamin that no serious lifter should be short on.
Here are 6 ways in which sufficient Vitamin C intake will benefit you both in and out of the gym…
1) It is a powerful antioxidant.
When oxygen combines with other compounds as a result of intense exercise and natural bodily processes, it can form what are known as "free radicals". Free radicals are metabolic waste products that attack cells, mutate cell membranes and that have also been linked with many diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Antioxidants battle against free radicals by either preventing their formation in the first place, or by latching on and neutralizing their effects. Through its effects as an antioxidant, Vitamin C protects the body from free radical damage.
2) It suppresses cortisol production.
Cortisol is a powerful catabolic hormone that is triggered as a result of stress, both from your workouts and from everyday life. Cortisol stimulates the breakdown of muscle tissue for use as energy, increases fat storage (particularly in the abdominal area), impairs nutrient transport into the muscles and inhibits muscle recovery in between workouts.
Vitamin C appears to have a measurable impact on reducing cortisol secretion in the body.
3) It assists in the formation of steroid hormones.
One of the major limiting factors that determines how much muscle a person can build is their natural anabolic hormone levels. Vitamin C assists in the formation of these hormones.
4) It enhances the absorption of iron.
Iron is what allows oxygen to bind to hemoglobin in the blood, which is then delivered to the muscles to enhance performance. Low iron levels will decrease the amount of weight you are able to lift in the gym and how long you are able to maintain a high level of intensity during your workouts.
5) It increases the integrity of the immune system.
Those following an intense training program should always be concerned with keeping their immune system functioning at optimal levels. This will help you to prevent sickness and to maintain top levels of performance throughout the week.
6) It reduces muscle soreness.
When taken close to workouts, Vitamin C has been shown to reduce muscle soreness in the days following a training session. While this doesn't really have any direct positive physiological implications, it can be beneficial for those who would prefer to eliminate that deep aching that is usually felt in the muscles following a hard workout.
It should be clear by now that consuming adequate amounts of Vitamin C each day is an important part of maximizing the results from your program, whether your goal is to build muscle or to burn fat.
The recommend daily allowance for Vitamin C is just 60mg, however, this is a guideline set out for average everyday individuals and not for hard training athletes. Those who are following an intense muscle building and/or fat burning program will obviously require far higher amounts.
On the flipside, there are those who recommend taking "mega doses" of Vitamin C. Although Vitamin C is water-soluble (meaning the body can simply flush out an excess through the sweat and urine), mega-dosing is not natural to our biochemistry and could possibly interrupt other important bodily functions.
All things considered, I would recommend consuming Vitamin C in supplemental form in the range of 500mg-1500mg daily, spread out over 2-3 doses.
Try taking one dose in the morning, and another with your pre-workout meal. Most multivitamins will contain a small dose of Vitamin C in the range of 50-200mg, so purchasing a separate Vitamin C supplement is usually the best way to go.
You can also bump up your daily Vitamin C intake by increasing your consumption of natural foods such as tomatoes, apples, oranges and red/green peppers.
While you probably aren't going to notice any immediate effects to your bottom line progress as a simple result of Vitamin C supplementation, it still can and should be part of an effective overall plan that will maximize your results over the long term.
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