Vitamins are organic micronutrients that are essential for overall health and performance.
A brief overview of vitamins is that they keep us healthy by maintaining our immune system, helping us to release energy in metabolism, allowing for overall growth and development, and allowing our cells to work at their highest level.
All of the 13 known vitamins that are essential for human health have important functions in most metabolic processes in the body. Vitamins must be obtained from the diet, except vitamin D, which can also be produced in the skin from sunlight, and vitamin K, which is generated by the bacteria resident in the large intestine. When a vitamin becomes unavailable in the diet, a deficiency may develop within 3–4 weeks. Vitamins are either water-soluble (all B and C) or fat-soluble (A, D, E and K). Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water; fat-soluble vitamins do not and are usually ingested with dietary fats.
Although vitamins do not directly contribute to energy supply, they play an important role in as cofactors that are essential for the proper functioning of some important enzymes in energy metabolism.
A deficiency of some of the B-group vitamins, which act as cofactors of enzymes in carbohydrate metabolism (e.g. thiamin [B1], niacin [B3] and pyridoxine [B6]), fat metabolism (e.g. thiamin [B1], riboflavin [B2], pantothenic acid [B5] and biotin [B7]), and protein metabolism (pyridoxine [B6]), results in feelings of tiredness and an inability to sustain exercise.
Other vitamins play a role in red and white blood cell production (folic acid [B9] and cobalamin [B12]) or assist in the formation of bones, connective tissue and cartilage (e.g. vitamins C and D). Vitamin A, C and E also act as antioxidants.
There are many vitamins to mention, but in this post, we’ll look at vitamin D and several vitamins of the B family (B1, B2, B6, and B12) and how they help footballers.
What Are Vitamins?
Vitamins are part of the micronutrient group along with minerals. This differs from macronutrients like protein, carbohydrates, and fats as the micronutrients are needed in much smaller amounts, but their impact on health and performance is large.
However, they won’t provide your body energy like carbohydrates and fats, but they will help with the release of energy from the burning of those fuels as well as your daily functioning and performance.
Vitamins play a role in the more minor functions of our body, like keeping you from getting sick, healing wounds, keeping our bones strong, and assisting the functions of our enzymes in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.
These are important for footballers because they’re so active that they need the added nutrients and necessary benefits to play at their highest level. The demands of both training and match-play for players increase the requirements for some vitamins to support metabolic processes within the body.
Vitamin D is important for bone health, muscle function and immune function. Inadequate vitamin D status can weaken bones, impair muscle function and recovery and result in more infections like the common cold, so it is essential that football players avoid a deficiency.
Vitamin D is a unique vitamin in that it can be produced in the skin via sunlight exposure, with less than 20% of daily needs typically coming from the diet (good sources are red meat, liver, egg yolk, oily fish, mushrooms and fortified foods such as some spreads and breakfast cereals). That means that your ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight is dependent upon the weather and time of year which means that in autumn and winter you probably won’t get enough vitamin D.
The solution is to take a daily supplement of 1000-2000 IU (that’s 25-50 μg) of vitamin D3.
Vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12
The vitamin B family is important for a healthy body.
B1 (thiamin) is important in carbohydrate metabolism and for the nervous system.
B2 (riboflavin) helps maintain healthy skin and plays an important role in energy metabolism.
B6 (pyridoxine) is particularly important protein metabolism and the breakdown of muscle glycogen — the most important fuel for footballers.
B12 (cobalamin) is needed for the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to your muscles and white blood cells that defend us against infections.
Without enough of these vitamins your overall performance will undoubtedly decrease. You’ll find that you feel slower and react less to what is happening in front of you. You may lose your appetite and feel more tired than usual.
You may be thinking that this is a lot of different vitamins to take daily, however, our Kick Off supplement provides you with all four.
All of the B vitamins are important for proper performance and health, and footballers should try to take them every day.
How Much Vitamin B and D Do You Need?
You can, most of the time, get these vitamins in a well-balanced diet. But highly active people like athletes and players generally need more.
The shorter days make vitamin D harder to get in the autumn and winter, so supplementation is probably necessary at that time.
A multivitamin or a Vitamin D or B supplement can help fill in the gaps in your diet.
Even though vitamins don’t seem super important, footballers can benefit greatly from them.
Vitamins keep you from getting sick and from breaking bones, which can keep you away from the pitch. Vitamins help you stay healthy and avoid fatigue.
Competitive athletes, including football players, should always look to get enough vitamins daily to perform at their best.
Without getting enough of these vitamins in through supplementation or your diet, you’re not only risking disease or injury, but you’re leaving performance capabilities on the sideline!
Get your vitamins in through good nutrition choices and appropriate supplementation and watch the results happen!