Gaining muscle does more than just enhance your physique. It actually makes your body more resistant to inflammation and diseases. Many people think that they key to building muscle is eating more protein. However this is not the case.
The body actually requires more vitamins and minerals to help grow muscle tissue. Vitamins are important co-factors which help your body in various ways to break down protein from your food and then build it back up in order to grow your muscles.
In today’s article we will take a look at the importance of these Vitamins and how they affect muscle growth.
1. Vitamin A
This is one of the most important nutrients which is called retinol in its active form. Vitamin A supports protein synthesis, a process where your body breaks down protein from your food into amino acids, and then feeds this to the muscles to grow new tissue. Vitamin A also supports the structural strength of the muscles and promotes healthy bone development. The healthiest sources of active Vitamin A include pasture raised eggs, beef liver, virgin cod liver oil and grass fed butter.
2. Vitamin D
Over 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in Vitamin D which can lead to muscular pain, especially in the lower back. Every muscle cell in the body has a Vitamin D receptor (VDR) because this vitamin helps to control neural muscular function. Vitamin D helps to stabilise your posture, especially in the quads, glutes and iliopsoas muscles. This helps to prevent swaying when you walk and keep your core muscles strong.
Vitamin D can also help you give you more energy when exercising and helps to speed up muscle contraction. The best way to get Vitamin D is by exposing your skin to sunshine at least 20 minutes per day. Alternatively you can take 10,000IU of Vitamin D3 supplement daily along with 100mcg of Vitamin K2, as these work together in the body.
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E plays a very important role in growing and repairing muscle tissue. After exercising the cells and muscle tissues become torn forming micro tears. Vitamin E helps to restore these quickly and build them up stronger. Vitamin E is one of the best nutrients for reducing stiffness, soreness, cramps and muscle spasms, and is also a powerful antioxidant.
4. B Vitamins
After you lift weights or workout, you cause micro tears in the muscle tissue. As the tissues get repaired, the muscles get larger so that they can handle more stress. B-complex vitamins are important because they help your cells produce energy which is used by the muscle cells to repair these tears. Let’s take a look at the specific benefits of some of the nutrients in this group.
Thiamine (B1) is essential for metabolising proteins, provides the muscles with oxygen and encourages muscle growth. Riboflavin (B2) Important for metabolising glucose and burning fat, and helps boost energy reserves. Niacin (B3) This also boosts energy reserves when exercising, and takes part in over 50 metabolic processes.
Pyridoxine (B6) Helps the body to burn carbohydrates for fuel, metabolise protein and build muscle tissue. Biotin (B7) helps metabolise amino acids and carbs to use as energy for exercising. Cobalamin (B12) supports the nervous system and the communication between the muscles and the brain. It also helps to form red blood cells to fuel muscle with oxygen.
5. Vitamin C
This nutrient is a powerful antioxidant which is well known to improve your immune system and protect the body from disease. It is also absolutely essential for proper muscle growth, repair and building mass. After exercise Vitamin C helps to lower cortisol levels which help the healing process.
Vitamin C is vital for the synthesis of collagen, L-carnitine, catecholamines and other proteins. It acts as a cofactor to other enzymes which work with these chemical pathways in order to build tissue in the body. You can get enough daily Vitamin C by consuming 1 bell pepper each day. You can also get this from leafy greens like kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and other vegetables and berries.
Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like substance which also acts as an antioxidant in the body. This is very useful for preventing muscle fatigue in athletes. This is found in organ meats such as heart, liver and kidney. It can also be found in mackerel, sardines, pistachios, broccoli. Consuming Coq10 helps to feed muscle cells with energy, regulate inflammatory pathways and reduce oxidative stress. As you can see you need a range of different Vitamins in your diet to help build healthy muscle mass.
Taking a multivitamin supplement will not meet your requirements, as these are often synthetic and are not properly absorbed and utilized by muscle tissue. Poor quality multivitamin supplements in excess can be toxic. For this reason it’s very important to get your vitamins and minerals from healthy food sources.
Protein is also very important, however most people consume too much protein which can be very hard for the liver to process. Consuming 0.8 – 1g of protein per pound of body weight, each day, is enough fuel for your muscles to grow after exercising.