According to a recent study from Oregon State University, active individuals lacking in B vitamins – including college athletes and elite competitors – may perform worse during high intensity exercise and have a decreased ability to repair and build muscle. The results were published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.
The B-vitamins include thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, B-12 and folate. These micronutrients are necessary during the body’s process for converting proteins and sugars into energy, and are used during the production and repair of cells, including red blood cells.
For active individuals, a marginal deficiency in the vitamin B nutrients may impact the body’s ability to repair itself, operate efficiently and fight disease, according to study authors. Researchers analyzed the athletic performance of several elite and collegiate athletes, as well as less competitive individuals.
Researchers suggest that the stress on the body’s energy producing pathways during exercise, the changes in the body’s tissues resulting from training, an increase in the loss of nutrients in sweat, urine and feces during and after strenuous activity, and the additional nutrients needed to repair and maintain higher levels of lean tissue mass may affect B vitamin requirements.
Many athletes, especially young athletes involved in highly competitive sports, don’t realize the impact their diets have on their performance. Current B-vitamin recommendations for active individuals may be inadequate, and athletes who follow the recommended daily allowances set forth by the FDA may be receiving lower amounts of nutrients than their bodies need. Athletes who restrict calories or limit food groups like dairy or meat also have an increased risk of deficiency.
B-vitamins can be found in whole and enriched grains, dark green vegetables, nuts, and many animal and dairy products. Study authors suggest that athletes and individuals with poor or restricted diets consider taking a B vitamin supplement.