The biggest myth out there about growing muscles is that it’s easy. The truth is that building muscle is difficult, which is something any bodybuilder would be happy to tell you. It takes more than just lifting and eating as much protein as humanly possible to gain muscle mass. There are some nutrients that work hard behind the scenes to grow muscle for you.
This is why supplementation is such an important aspect of building muscle. Most people have mixed feelings about supplements and what they can do. It’s important you understand that supplements are more than just fat burners and protein powders. You could consider any nutrient added to close a nutritional gap to be a supplement.
So how does a person gain more muscle efficiently without having to eat more or spend all their time in the gym lifting weights? For most people it takes a little bit of outside-the-box thinking. Try to include as many high quality vitamins and minerals as you can in your stack of supplements.
So how do these vitamins and minerals help us to achieve explosive muscle growth?
The reality is it’s not that difficult to understand. Take a look at how macronutrients interact with the body. Carbs give your body energy, while protein and fat become body tissues. If you’re able to boost how many vitamins and minerals you have you make it easier for your body to use up fat and protein, making it easier for your body to create tissues like muscle to give you a noticeable amount of muscle growth.
Before you go out and grab all the vitamins you can, let’s first look at the top 10 vitamins and minerals for muscle growth. Focus on getting these ones, rather than hoping any old vitamin will do.
Thiamine is better known as vitamin B1. This water-soluble B vitamin is essential for growing muscles. It assists the body in converting carbs, fats, and protein into energy to be used by the body for any purpose. Given that every B-vitamin is water-soluble, they are not stored in the body. This makes it all too easy to find yourself with a B-vitamin deficiency. A deficiency of thiamine in particular can cause muscle loss, making it even more important for you to get all the B vitamins your body needs.
Thiamine also helps to absorb other B vitamins such as vitamin B12. B12 itself is used in the production of testosterone, and you don’t need us to tell you that an increase in testosterone leads to an increase in muscle mass.
Your body is unable to produce B vitamins so you need to consume them to get enough of them in your body. The best way to get thiamine through your diet is by consuming organ meats. So your best bet is to eat liver and sweetbreads. If you’re feeling more adventurous then try tongue.
#2 Vitamin D
Vitamin D – that sunny little vitamin – is perhaps the most underrated vitamin around when it comes to muscle health. Many people understand that vitamin D is needed for supporting bone health, but several studies have also shown there is a link between vitamin D and lean muscle mass. People that don’t get enough vitamin D typically have higher levels of fatty muscle compared to people getting enough.
Vitamin D can even help you out when you hit the gym. This vitamin is used to keep the nerves controlling your muscles working properly. If you don’t have enough vitamin D, then you can suffer from inflammation that damages the connection between your nerves and muscles. If this connection isn’t running smoothly it makes your workouts ineffective.
The average adult needs 600 I/U of vitamin D each day to maintain adequate levels. Spending just fifteen minutes out in the sun – without sunscreen – is enough to get adequate levels of vitamin D for your body that day. Of course, there is some risk involved with going out without sunscreen and you might not want to take it.
Or perhaps you live in a place where it’s difficult to find some time in the sun. This is where you can use a vitamin D supplement to get enough vitamin D. If you’re looking to take the whole foods approach and get all your vitamin D from your diet, then eat tuna, salmon, and egg yolks.
#3 Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a vital component of muscle growth. Your body has to be able to repair torn muscles in order to create strong and healthy muscles. Vitamin A has a number of benefits, including being able to grow and repair muscle tissue.
Vitamin A is different from vitamin B in that it is fat-soluble rather than water soluble. This means that it is stored in the body in fat globules and can stay there for a while. Because it isn’t easy for the body to run out of vitamin A, it’s possible to overdose on this vitamin.
It’s far better to get vitamin A through dietary sources rather than supplementing using pills.
A large dose of vitamin A can actually be toxic. One of the best dietary sources of vitamin A is animal liver. If you don’t like the sound of eating liver, then try some cheese, spinach, or sweet potato instead. They are all great sources of vitamin A.
#4 Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the most recognised vitamins in the world, but you should know that it’s much more than just a cold remedy. Vitamin C actually has a lot of health benefits including strengthening the immune system and developing tissues. Vitamin C is also water-soluble, meaning that the body gets rid of any excess vitamin C and you need to replenish your levels of the vitamin regularly.
Protein is considered to be the star of muscle synthesis, but vitamin C can be just as important as protein. Protein builds muscles of course, but vitamin C builds the proteins that go on to grow and repair muscles. Vitamin C is considered to be the healing vitamin, as it also helps you to recover from workouts and restore torn muscle tissues.
If you want vitamin C then you want citrus fruits. This is something else that everyone understands about vitamin C. Even so, there are still some other foods that are rich in vitamin C such as bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale.
Calcium is considered a bone mineral, but it also plays a role in muscle function. Muscles will contract and release as you undergo strength training. That causes tiny tear in the muscles that will be repaired to make muscles tougher and larger. Calcium is needed to help muscles contract. If you don’t have enough calcium your muscles won’t contract properly. Of course, overdoing it on calcium makes the muscles stiff.
Milk is the king of calcium, but this doesn’t help people who are lactose intolerant or living the vegan lifestyle. The great news is that calcium can be found in non-dairy foods. Some dairy alternatives actually have more calcium than dairy. Try to get some kale, sardines, almonds, or bok choy into your diet for calcium.
Biotin is another name for vitamin H. This vitamin is famous for helping the hair, skin, and nails. While it is called vitamin H, biotin is technically a B vitamin and has similar functions to the other members of the vitamin B family.
Biotin is important for burning through fat. It helps in this regard by helping the body metabolise proteins and fats. It turns the macronutrients into energy and helps to keep the body lean. Increasing how much energy you have also boosts your workouts, which helps to grow muscles.
There are many foods that have biotin, but they tend to have small doses. To get more biotin in your diet consume mushrooms, peanuts, egg yolks, rice, and potatoes.
Magnesium is a great mineral for keeping energy levels up. It has been shown that sleep deprivation and stress slow down the muscle building process. Magnesium helps you to relax and stay cool. This helps your muscles recover. Magnesium is also needed to properly metabolize macronutrients to give your body energy.
Magnesium and calcium work best when combined, because they both need one another to work properly. While calcium helps your muscles contract, magnesium helps them to relax. Magnesium supplements often get overlooked, but it doesn’t make this mineral any less important than calcium.
Magnesium supplements can be purchased as pills or powders. As is the case with any other vitamin and mineral, there are some foods you can consume to get more magnesium. Try eating spinach, mackerel, avocado and brown rice. This food combination is packed with plenty of carbs, proteins, and fats, while also being rich in magnesium.
If you get plenty of sleep at night and are still sluggish in the morning then you may have problems with your iron levels.
There are a number of potentially serious side effects to an iron deficiency that can damage your health and hamper your training efforts. Iron is needed for producing red blood cells. These cells ferry oxygen around the body. A lack of iron causes you to feel lightheaded and breathless during a workout.
It’s important to understand that you might not be able to get enough iron through your diet if you have drastically low levels. It’s likely you’ll need the help of an iron supplement to boost red blood cell count. With this in mind, eating a diet rich in iron is only enough to get adequate levels of iron. Dark leafy greens and animal proteins are great sources of iron.
Another thing to keep in mind with iron is that constipation is a common side effect of iron supplementation. You should make sure you get plenty of fiber if you’re supplementing with iron.
#9 Vitamin B12
While all B vitamins can be grouped together, they each have slightly different functions. Vitamin B12 in particular has become something of a hot topic following the rise of people adopting plant-based diets. There is a real concern that vegans do not get enough vitamin B12 in their diet.
This is because the only way to gain a lot of vitamin B12 is by consuming animal products. One plant based source of vitamin B12 is nutritional yeast, but even this is unlikely to provide the body with proper amounts of vitamin B12.
If you aren’t a vegan then you’re not likely to be deficient in vitamin B12. The amino acids contained in this vitamin help to build and repair muscle tissue. Foods that are rich in vitamin B12 are eggs, poultry, red meat, and fish. There are some plant-based foods that are fortified with vitamin B12 including breads and cereals, but they are not naturally occurring like the vitamin B12 in meat.
Zinc is a mineral that is vital for male health. It helps boost testosterone levels, which decline naturally with age. Testosterone is the hormone needed for muscle mass. If you want to develop large muscles, then you want to have zinc. Zinc also plays a part in sexual health, helping maintain sperm production and a healthy libido. It’s hardly a surprise foods high in zinc such as oysters are considered an aphrodisiac.
Other dietary sources of zinc include beef, cashews, and spinach. As is the case with some other vitamins and minerals on our list, there are potential adverse side effects to having too much zinc. That is why it’s best to get your zinc through dietary sources and only take supplements with the recommendation of a doctor.
Vitamins and minerals are an important part of overall health. Even if you eat a diet filled with whole foods it may lack certain nutrients, which is when it becomes helpful to change your diet or consider supplementation.
It’s important to remember that vitamin and mineral supplements are intended to go with a healthy diet. You shouldn’t rely on supplements to give you all the nutrients you need to reach your goals. Remember that even a vitamin can be damaging if taken in large quantities. This includes having unwanted muscular results from training. Some of them may even be fatal. Please consult your doctor before self-dosing with supplements to stay safe.