Vitamins for Building Muscles

Each of the essential 13 vitamins serves a specific function in the body, and some are more important than others in strength training. Maintaining proper blood and nutrient flow to bones and muscles is vital for adequate stimulation and growth of muscle, as well as maintaining a solid immune system to fight off infection and disease. Always consult your physician before starting a vitamin supplement regimen.

Vitamin A

This group of fat-soluble compounds aids in cell division and cell differentiation, and also regulates the immune system by making white blood cells and fighting infection. The best sources of preformed vitamin A are beef and chicken liver, milk, cheese, and eggs. The best sources of beta-carotene, a substance that can be transformed into vitamin A, are carrots, spinach and kale, cantaloupe, apricots, and mango. The Institute of Medicine recommends 900 micrograms per day (μg/d) of vitamin A for men; 700 μg/d for women. This is equal to 3,000 International Units per day (IU/d) for men and 2,310 IU/d for women.

Vitamin B Complex

This water-soluble complex is made up of vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6 and B12. While all the B vitamins should be taken in concert, B1, B3 and B12 are most important for macro-nutrient metabolism and proper nutrient absorption. You find Vitamin B in beef liver, milk, fish, eggs and spinach. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends 1.3 milligrams per day (mg/d) of B6 and 2.4 μg/d of B12 for both men and women.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble hormone found naturally in very few foods and is usually synthesized in the body via direct exposure to sunlight with a wavelength of 290-315 nanometers (UVB radiation). In a light-skinned person, 30 minutes of exposure can generate approximately 20,000 IU of vitamin D. When sunlight is unavailable, oral supplements can be substituted. The IOM recommends ingesting 200 to 400 IU/d of vitamin D for both men and women, but Dr. Edward Giovannucci, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, suggests a daily oral dose of 1,000 or 2,000 IU may be a more ideal.

Vitamin E

This fat-soluble antioxidant protects cells against free radicals, and improves circulation and tissue repair. The IOM recommends 15 mg/d (roughly 22 IU/d) for both men and women. Vitamin E can be found in dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, eggs and milk.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble compound necessary for proper blood-clotting and bone formation and repair. It also converts glucose into glycogen for storage in the liver. The IOM recommends 120 μg/d for men and 90 μg/d for women. Vitamin K is found in asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, egg yolks and yogurt.

About this Author

Derek Peruo is a certified personal trainer who has contributed to fitness blogs such as Straight To The Bar since 2007. He also designs training programs for athletes of all levels. He lives and works in New York City, and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting from DePaul University.