Can Vitamin Pills Really Give You Energy

An extra portion of vitamins for exercise?

What is behind the advertising of vitamins for athletes?

"Athletes vitamins support top performance", "can prevent injuries and accelerate regeneration" - this is what the advertising for so-called "athlete vitamins" promises Body uses up important vitamins ”.

But even if different claims are often made: As a sporty person, you do not have to worry about suffering from a vitamin deficiency or being inundated by so-called free radicals. An increased energy requirement does not inevitably increase your need for vitamins.

Only in endurance athletes (marathon etc.) can the vitamin B1 requirement, which increases proportionally to the carbohydrate intake, be increased.

Athletes can easily meet an increased need for nutrients with larger servings. It only becomes difficult in those sports with strong weight control. Nutritional advice is helpful here.

A supplement with vitamins can only improve performance if there is a deficiency. Otherwise, no positive effects have been proven, not even for vitamins C and E or the provitamin beta-carotene, although they are repeatedly advertised. Controlled studies could neither show an increase in muscular performance nor a reduced muscle stress reaction after ingestion of these antioxidant substances.

Water-soluble vitamins are hardly lost through sweat, including water-soluble vitamin B6. Strength athletes who also take in large amounts of protein may theoretically be less well supplied with vitamins A, C, E and B6. You can counter this effect effectively with a balanced diet.

According to the results of a study with endurance athletes, the intake of antioxidants (vitamins C and E) slows down the improvement in muscular endurance through exercise. So it could be that both vitamins, taken in isolation, nullify training effects.

What should I look out for when using vitamins for athletes?

Too many antioxidant vitamins can do more harm than good. Free radicals are not just simple "by-products" in the body, they are important signaling molecules. For example, high-dose vitamin C can hinder such signaling pathways, impair the adaptation mechanisms and, in some cases, even impair performance and the training effect. Studies by the Oslo Sport University show that caution is required. For example, it was observed in strength athletes who took vitamins C and E that the muscle cell metabolism changed and the adaptation to strength training was worse compared to the control group without vitamins.

Vitamin B6 supplements from the Internet sometimes provide more than 3000% of the daily requirement (which is 1.5 mg for men), as the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety found in 2015. Even amounts of more than 25 mg per day are not considered to be safe.

To date, however, have been at EU level no binding maximum quantities for vitamins and minerals set. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has therefore drawn up proposals for maximum levels in food supplements. Products that adhere to these recommendations and are taken according to the manufacturer's instructions are safe for people aged 15 and over.

If you really want to swallow vitamin tablets, you should make sure that the daily dose of the ingredients does not exceed these maximum levels. This is also recommended by the Sports Nutrition Working Group of the German Nutrition Society.

Our tip:

  • Athletes who eat enough and varied food do not need vitamin pills. Good natural sources of antioxidant vitamins are fruits, vegetables and vegetable oils.
  • Enough vitamin B6 can easily be obtained from meat and fish, nuts and potatoes.
  • If you do not trust your supply, make sure when purchasing the product that the dosages recommended by the BfR for dietary supplements are not exceeded.

BfR asked: Dietary supplements in sport
They should make you sporty and slim - nutritional supplements in sport. More and more people are using them. What is it about the fit-makers and what should you watch out for?


What are vitamins for athletes?

Vitamin preparations for athletes usually contain the antioxidant vitamins C, A and E. They are intended to intercept the high production of free radicals during sport, which are seen as "harmful by-products" of energy production.

Vitamin B6 is used in products for strength athletes because of its effect in protein metabolism and thus in muscle building.



DOSB: Dietary Supplements, German Olympic Sports Confederation, 1st edition, Frankfurt am Main, June 2014

Society of German Chemists e.V. (GDCh): Basic paper Sports nutrition and sports nutrition: A current inventory (2011)

Mettler S: Supplements: Opportunities and Risks, Antidoping Switzerland Foundation

Ristow M et al .: Antioxidants prevent health-promoting effects of physical exercise in humans, March 31, 2009, PNAS Online (accessed October 29, 2020)

Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety: Vitamin B 6- critical overdoses in sports products ?, document updated on 06.06.2019 (accessed on 29.10.2020)

Weissenborn A. et al. (2018): Maximum levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements. J Consum Prot Food Saf 13:25.

Cumming KT et al. (2014): Effects of vitamin C and E supplementation on endogenous antioxidant systems and heat shock proteins in response to endurance training, Physiological Reports Published 7 October 2014 Vol. 2 no. E12142 DOI: 10.14814 / phy2.12142, The American Physiological Society and The Physiological Society Online

G. Paulsen G et al .: Vitamin C and E supplementation alters protein signaling after a strength training session, but not muscle growth during 10 weeks of training, J Physiol., 2014 Dec 15; 592 (24): 5391-408. doi: 10.1113 / jphysiol.2014.279950. Epub 2014 Nov 10

Ziegenhagen R et al. (2020): Safety aspects of dietary supplements in sports. German Z Sportmed. 71: 216-224. doi: 10.5960 / dzsm.2020.455 (accessed on October 29, 2020)

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