Looking to build muscle? While you’re probably familiar with the role of protein in building strong, healthy muscles, vitamins play a significant part in muscle growth and recovery. If you’ve been hard at work in the gym and aren’t seeing the results you’re after, you may not be getting your vitamins. Here’s a list of the seven most important vitamins that contribute to healthy muscle growth and repair.
1. Vitamin E
While most people are familiar with Vitamin E in terms of skincare, there’s a whole lot this vitamin can do for athletes looking to get stronger and build muscle. Professional bodybuilders around the world rely on Vitamin E for muscle growth. It’s a powerful antioxidant that scavenges free radicals that the body creates naturally in response to several factors, particularly exercise.
As you exercise, free radicals form within the body. An abundance of free radicals leads to oxidative stress, and chronic oxidative stress is directly associated with an increase in protein loss and muscle atrophy. Adequate intake of Vitamin E for muscle growth helps the body combat oxidative stress caused by exercise, helping you build stronger muscles and preventing muscle frailty.
2. Vitamin A
Proteins form the building blocks of muscles, but your body can’t synthesize protein on its own. Vitamin A aids the body in protein synthesis, helping you increase muscle mass. In men, Vitamin A also boosts testosterone production, further aiding in muscle growth and recovery. Vitamin A also helps cells reach full maturity at a faster rate. When combined with Vitamin E, which prevents free radicals from causing premature cell death, Vitamin A gives your muscles the support they need for healthy growth.
3. Vitamin C
You’re probably familiar with Vitamin C’s immune-boosting properties, but this essential nutrient does much more than that. Like Vitamin E, Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, but it plays a different role in muscle growth. Vitamin C helps repair muscle tissues after you’ve had a long session in the gym, promoting quick recovery that’s essential for building muscle mass.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is known as “the sunshine vitamin” because your body absorbs it from exposure to sunlight. Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough Vitamin D because they don’t get enough sun exposure—whether due to working indoors or living in an environment with little sunshine. This essential nutrient promotes protein synthesis, the process that builds and maintains muscles. It also work in tandem with calcium to help you build strong bones.
5. Vitamin B2
There are several vitamins in the “B” family that promote muscle growth and repair, and B2 is a big one. Vitamin B2 supports energy production which is essential if you’re looking to make big gains at the gym. After you lift, B2 plays a role in reducing soreness. Maintain adequate B2 levels and you won’t feel nearly as sore after your next heavy lifting session, allowing you to get back in the gym sooner and continue making gains.
6. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is another effective muscle-boosting nutrient in the “B” family. It helps your body produce red blood cells which, in turn, send oxygen to the muscles. It also helps your body metabolize protein and fat, delivering the amino acids you need to repair and rebuild muscles.
7. Vitamin B6
As you can see, the “B” family of vitamins are power players when it comes to muscle growth and repair. B6 in particular promotes red blood cell production and helps the body maintain healthy levels of nitric oxide, which directly support performance and endurance in the gym. If you want longer, better pumps, make sure you’re meeting your recommended daily intake of B6.
Building muscle involves more than what you do in the gym
Most professional bodybuilders agree that muscle gain doesn’t happen only in the gym—what you do at home in the kitchen is just as important. Your work at home involves much more than simply counting calories, measuring macros. You need to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins to support essential body functions, including muscle growth and repair.
If you’re interested in boosting your intake of any of the vitamins listed above, consider making dietary changes first. In some cases, though, supplementing can be a quick, easy and effective way to make sure you’re maintaining appropriate levels of muscle-building nutrients. Your work building muscle doesn’t stop once you’ve left the gym—talk to your doctor and determine whether supplementing is right for you.