Vitamins and Minerals for Athletes

Vitamins and minerals do not provide energy directly to the body but they are vital in turning food into energy that your body can use. While there is no evidence that taking vitamins can improve performance, a lack of vitamins and minerals can surely slow you down. A varied diet is the ideal way for athletes to meet their vitamin and mineral needs.

The following table highlights a handful of vitamins and minerals that are crucial to an athlete's diet, as well as some food sources of these vitamins and minerals.

Vitamin Purpose Good Sources
Thiamine (Vitamin B1) Helps break down carbohydrates and protein for energy Whole grains, enriched grains, fortified cereals
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) Essential for energy production Almonds, milk, yogurt, fortified grains
Niacin Supports anaerobic and aerobic performance Meat, fish, poultry, peanuts, enriched grains
Vitamin B6 Essential for energy production and hemoglobin production Meat, fish , poultry, eggs, beans, whole grains, seeds
Vitamin B12 Helps deliver oxygen to tissues Animal products only! Seafood, meats, milk, cheese, eggs, fortified cereals
Vitamin D Important for bone health and muscle function Fortified milk and cereals, seafood, eggs
Pantothenic Acid Helps breakdown fat, protein and carbohydrates into energy Poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds, avocados and whole grains
Mineral    
Sodium Regulate body fluids Salt, breads, pre-packaged foods
Potassium Maintains proper pH balance Potatoes, squash, seafood, lima beans and white beans, bananas
Calcium Aids in muscle contraction Dairy products, spinach, beans, fish, fortified foods
Iron Production of hemoglobin, aids in oxygen transportation Meat, poultry, seafood, lentils and fortified grains