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Nutrition

The Crucial Role Vitamins Play in the Body

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, The Crucial Role Vitamins Play in the Body

Why You Should Eat Your Vegetables

As a trainer you know the importance of diet to overall wellness, not to mention to meeting fitness goals. But do your clients?

We trainers have a big responsibility when it comes to our clients. We want them to meet goals, like strength and weight loss, but we also need to educate them about how diet plays a role in all these processes.

Everyone has a vague understanding of vitamins and why we need them, but if you can teach your clients more about what they do in the body and how they are important for training, you can inspire them to eat more vegetables and other healthful, nutrient-rich foods.

Vitamins can be divided into two groups:

  • Water-soluble vitamins. C and the B vitamins dissolve in water. This means you excrete any excess amounts in the urine.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins. The fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K, get stored in fatty tissue in the body. It is possible to overdose on these vitamins because they are not excreted.

Make sure your clients have a good grasp of vitamin basics, and the foods they need to eat for a well-rounded diet that will benefit their training goals.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an important antioxidant, responsible for protecting the body from harmful free radicals. It also helps the body absorb iron, develop collagen, a structural protein, metabolize cholesterol, and make the important neurotransmitter, norepinephrine.

Getting adequate vitamin C in the diet is not difficult if you eat fresh or frozen produce. Look for the highest levels in:

  • Leafy, green vegetables and broccoli.
  • Peas.
  • Potatoes.
  • Bell peppers.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Asparagus.
  • Citrus fruit.
  • Strawberries.
  • Papaya.
  • Mango.
  • Kiwi.

Vitamin B1

Also known as thiamine, vitamin B1 is especially important for athletes. It is a coenzyme that is needed to unlock energy from the foods we eat. Thiamine also plays a role in the synthesis of DNA and RNA. You’ll get plenty of vitamin B1 from plant sources:

  • Lettuce and spinach
  • Peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Whole grains
  • Lentils
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Tuna

Vitamin B2

Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, is an essential part of the Krebs cycle, and therefore is necessary for energy production. It also assists with iron metabolism and the processing of drugs and toxins in the liver. Riboflavin is involved in red blood cell production, also crucial for energy, and it helps the body maintain adequate levels of other B vitamins.

If you eat your leafy, green vegetables and a variety of other foods, you should have no problem getting enough riboflavin. Some of the most important sources are:

  • Spinach and other green, leafy vegetables.
  • Asparagus.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Eggs.
  • Yogurt.
  • Almonds.
  • Whole grains.
  • Halibut and salmon.

Vitamin B3

Niacin, or vitamin B3, is essential for the repair of DNA in our cells, for signaling between cells, and for controlling levels of cholesterol in the body. B3 also plays an important role in energy production because it is part of the coenzyme NAD used in the electron transport chain. Find B3 in these food sources:

  • Mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Whole grains
  • Lima beans
  • Peanuts
  • Lentils
  • Seaweed
  • Salmon, halibut, and tuna

Vitamin B5

Pantothenic acid is another name for vitamin B5, and it plays a role in energy production as a necessary step in the formation of acetyl-coA. It also helps to synthesize cholesterol, neurotransmitters, and steroid-based hormones. Many plant foods are rich in vitamin B5:

  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Leafy greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Lentils and split peas
  • Avocados
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole grains
  • Seeds
  • Berries
  • Yogurt
  • Eggs

Vitamin B6

Pyridoxine, vitamin B6, is a co-enzyme essential to the metabolism of protein. It also helps to break down glycogen, metabolize red blood cells, and make neurotransmitters and hormones. The actions of pyridoxine support healthy functioning of the nervous and immune systems. You can get plenty of vitamin B6 from:

  • Avocados.
  • Bananas.
  • Spinach.
  • Potatoes.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Walnuts and hazelnuts.
  • Seeds.
  • Oats.
  • Trout, salmon, and tuna.

Vitamin B7

Biotin is B7 and it is necessary for the formation of the enzyme carboxylase. In turn this means that vitamin B7 is important for fat synthesis, energy production, metabolism of leucine, and gluconeogenesis. Biotin is also involved in replication and transcription of DNA. Look for plenty of biotin in vegetables, grains, and fish:

  • Leafy greens
  • Avocados
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Onions
  • Cauliflower
  • Berries
  • Whole grains
  • Almonds and walnuts
  • Halibut and salmon

Vitamin B9

Folic acid, or folate, is vitamin B9, essential for the formation of new proteins. It is also important for metabolizing amino acids and nucleic acids, the building blocks of protein and DNA. Folate assists in the production of red blood cells and the use and breakdown of vitamins C and B12. Sources of folate in food are limited, but folic acid supplements are available:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Leafy, green vegetables
  • Beets
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is cobalamin an enzyme co-factor that is necessary for synthesis of DNA and for keeping nerve cells and red blood cells healthy and functioning. B12 is also involved in the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. In the diet B12 is largely found in animal products, so vegans and vegetarians may need a supplement:

  • Salmon, tuna, and rockfish
  • Clams
  • Crab
  • Beef
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt

Vitamin A

Vitamin A actually refers to a group of fat-soluble compounds that include retinol, the most usable of these important vitamins. Vitamin A compounds are involved in protein synthesis, the formation of visual pigments, the development of embryos, and the production of red blood cells. A vitamins are needed for a functioning immune system and for wounds to heal. Vitamin A is found in many orange-colored vegetables and fruits:

  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Mangos
  • Red and yellow bell peppers
  • Spinach and other green, leafy vegetables
  • Dairy
  • Eggs

Vitamin D

Vitamin D refers to a group of prohormones. You can get these compounds through food but also through exposure to sunlight. Once taken in by either of these methods, vitamin D has to be transported to the liver where it is converted into a biologically active form. Once in that form vitamin D is involved in cell differentiation, gene transcription, calcium uptake and absorption, glucose tolerance, blood pressure regulation, and immune system function. Exposure to the sun is the most important source of vitamin D for most people, but you can also get it through:

  • Sardines.
  • Mackerel.
  • Salmon.
  • Egg yolks.
  • Foods fortified with vitamin D.

Vitamin E

A family of eight antioxidants, vitamin E is necessary for finding and neutralizing free radicals, signaling between cells, and expressing immune cells and inflammatory cells. In the diet you can get more vitamin E from:

  • Leafy, green vegetables.
  • Avocados.
  • Apples.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Carrots.
  • Vegetable oils.
  • Seeds.
  • Nuts.
  • Whole grains.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a small group of three fat-soluble vitamins, one of which is synthesized by bacteria in the gut. K vitamins are necessary for blood clotting, amino acid metabolism, and signaling between bone cells. You can get more vitamin K in your diet by eating:

  • Leafy, green vegetables.
  • Vegetable oils.
  • Parsley.
  • Peas.
  • Lentils.
  • Kelp.

If you want to learn more about how you can help clients succeed with good nutrition, Check out ISSA's comprehensive Fitness Nutrition Certification program.

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, The Crucial Role Vitamins Play in the Body

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