Vitamins and Minerals for Athletes

Vitamins and minerals are vital for keeping our bodies healthy and functioning well. A lack of vitamins and minerals will impair athletic performance.

Refer to this table for examples of key vitamins and minerals for an athlete’s diet, and some food sources:

Vitamin Purpose Good Sources
Thiamine (Vitamin B1) Helps break down carbohydrates and protein for energy Whole grains, enriched grains, fortified cereals
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) Essential for energy production Almonds, milk, yogurt, fortified grains
Niacin Supports anaerobic and aerobic performance Meat, fish, poultry, peanuts, enriched grains
Vitamin B6 Essential for energy production and hemoglobin production Meat, fish , poultry, eggs, beans, whole grains, seeds
Vitamin B12 Helps deliver oxygen to tissues Animal products or supplements only! Seafood, meats, milk, cheese, eggs, fortified cereals
Vitamin D Important for bone health and muscle function Fortified milk and cereals, seafood, eggs
Pantothenic Acid Helps breakdown fat, protein and carbohydrates into energy Poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds, avocados and whole grains

Mineral Purpose Good Sources
Sodium Regulate body fluids Salt, breads, salted nuts
Potassium Maintains proper pH balance Potatoes, squash, seafood, lima beans and white beans, bananas
Calcium Aids in muscle contraction Dairy products, spinach, beans, fish, fortified foods
Iron Production of hemoglobin, aids in oxygen transportation Meat, poultry, seafood, lentils and fortified grains

Did You Know…

A varied diet is the most effective way for athletes to meet their vitamin and mineral needs. Intensive exercise routines may lead to an increase in the need for some micronutrients.

All athletes, and especially vegetarian athletes, should make sure they are getting enough iron, B12, zinc, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.