Bring up the word “Supplements” in a gym atmosphere and you will most likely have everyone thinking along the lines of Creatine, Protein, Ribose, etc. Although these elements are classified as supplements, they are not classified as vital “Vitamin / Mineral” supplements that will be the topic of this discussion. I notice many young athletes find it interesting to educate themselves on the muscle building properties of the top supplements for powerlifters, yet they seem less interested in applying the same effort when it comes to the critically important vitamin / mineral subject. Perhaps a lesson in “Attention Getter Labels” from the Sports Supplement Industry would help the bland labeled Vitamin / Mineral manufacturers get a boost in well deserved recognition. I can only imagine the disappointment of those who have taken Andro products for extended periods without knowing they could have greatly increased the positive effects of these products by simply combining it with a zinc tablet. As athletes in a sport where high blood pressure can reach what might be considered “Unsafe Limits” by those in the medical profession, a basic knowledge of proper supplementation should be the minimal quest if powerlifting is to be aggressively pursued, SAFELY.
For many, a multiple vitamin each morning, washed down with a cup of coffee seems to the most common answer I receive when questioning folks about their dietary practices. Save your money. Taking a vitamin on an empty stomach without eating breakfast will do nothing. The assimilation of a vitamin or a mineral must be taken during a meal. A compressed tablet or encapsulated vitamin or mineral element must attach itself to a food source if any benefits are to be realized. A digestive process must take place. Furthermore, there must be a direct connection between a specific vitamin and mineral if the system is going to reap the benefits of both. An example would be vitamin C and Copper. Together they work to give elasticity to the cell wall. Without that elasticity a capillary in the brain could easily become inflexible and rupture at a time when the lifter is experiencing a temporarily high BP from a maximum attempt. To continually supplement vitamin C without adding the proper amount of Copper to the diet, will render the process ineffective to a great extent. As with any mineral supplement, make sure to take a chelated form of Copper. The process of chelation aids in it’s ability to be fully digested. The process simply binds the mineral to amino acids, allowing the body to absorb a larger percentage of the mineral. Since vitamin C is classified as water soluble, it doesn’t store well in the body, therefore daily doses are far more important than the fat soluble storage vitamins such as A, E, D and K.
Vitamin B (Complex) is the other water soluble requiring daily supplementation. The complex is categorized from B-1 through B-17 of which, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, B-12, and Folic Acid are often found on labels when sold in their isolated form. Generally speaking, I would recommend taking the B vitamins as a complex since they are synergistic, meaning they are more efficient as a group. Symptoms alerting us to deficiencies in the B complex could show up as constipation, dizziness, fatigue, bloodshot eyes, and a variety of digestive problems, to name a few.
With over 60 minerals needed in varying quantities, several carry the importance of needing an added daily supplementation above what might be derived from our daily food sources. Those being Calcium, Chlorine, Chromium, Vanadium, Potassium, Manganese, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, and Cobalt. Although Sodium and Iron are classified as essential, In general, I feel the average American probably receives more than enough of these two, in their daily diet. An exception concerning Iron, would be of importance to heavy coffee drinkers. Coffee tends to deplete iron stores. A chronic back ache can be a sign of Iron deficiency. Ironically, the caffeine in the coffee will numb the pain to some extent, even as the coffee continues to rob the body of the very element that is needed to solve the problem.
Keep in mind, the body can synthesize some of the vitamins but it cannot produce one mineral from within. A multiple vitamin / mineral supplement, IN ADDITION to the other essentials listed above, plus a diet that always includes green vegetables, carrots, eggs and a variety of fruits, will let you focus on training without unnecessary risk. Remember, the chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. By eliminating that link, an unbroken chain of lifting progress is far more likely.