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There's no doubt that bodybuilders and other athletes need and use more protein (plus healthy fats and complex carbs) than the average Joe. But what about the humbler building blocks of nutrition? The truth is, you can't build a prize-winning physique without a sturdy foundation of general well-being and overall health. And that's where vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants come in. When these essentials are overlooked, our bodies will simply not respond optimally with regard to energy levels, performance and growth.
Here are just a few examples: calcium is needed for muscle contraction; B vitamins are required for ATP cellular energy; antioxidants from vitamin C and botanicals protect tissue from free radical damage during high intensity workouts; and vitamin D plays a crucial role in maintaining testosterone levels. The bottom line is, not having enough of these critical nutrients when our bodies need them will have a negative impact on training results.
Incidental Amounts Are Not Enough
"But I get plenty of vitamins in the other formulations I use, don't I?" You'll often see added vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in protein and performance enhancing formulations, but the amounts added are there as synergistic elements, co-factors that work with the major constituents of the formula. For instance, protein formulations will often have added vitamin B-5 (pantothenic acid) to help with metabolism of the amino acids in the formula. It's not wise to think of these as true nutrient support because the types and amounts of vitamins and minerals added to these formulas are generally not enough to cover your needs all day.
Many Choices, but Few Quality
Formulations to Choose From
After selecting top quality products in pre-workout, testosterone and protein formulations, many bodybuilders reach for the most convenient vitamin/mineral formula they can find. After all, a vitamin is a vitamin, right?
This is truly a mistake because vitamin/mineral formulations vary greatly in quality and specific usage as much as any other sports supplement. Many multi formulations use lower quality, lower potency ingredients while leaving out important nutrients. In addition, using an off-the-shelf multi formula made for the general public can be a poor idea for an athlete who has special nutrient needs. You obviously can't put a low-grade fuel in a Ferrari and expect it to perform optimally. There are also specific formulations needed for men and women, who have different nutritional needs as well as different hormonal support requirements. Clearly, specific formulations are needed for different groups: bodybuilders, men and women.
The Specifics of a Top Quality Bodybuilder's Multi
A good example of this specificity can be found in ProSource's Super MegaMax. This comprehensive formula was designed specifically for bodybuilders and hardcore athletes who require certain key nutrients with higher potencies for optimizing performance and muscle growth support.
For instance, this super-charged formula includes a blend of B-Power Energy factors with potent amounts of performance enhancing B vitamins and an exceptionally high amount of B12 to support metabolic energy demands--100 times the potency compared to another leading store brand. It's also fortified with superior antioxidant protection from a highly bioactive form of vitamin C plus lycopene, quercetin, N-acetyl-cysteine and CoQ10. This last nutrient does double duty as a powerful antioxidant as well as an essential component in providing cellular energy. This formula clearly targets specific elements of performance, growth and protection.
Another example of Super MegaMax's targeted design is an ultra-potent combination of 20,000 IUs of beta carotene for natural antioxidant protection, 400 IUs of vitamin D and 200 mcg of chromium to facilitate balanced blood sugar levels during the day. It also contains MSM and boron to help support healthy joints and an isomer blend of natural vitamin E, shown to be many times more powerful than synthetic forms of this crucial antioxidant.
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One of the Important Formula Designs for
Optimizing Health: Gender-Specific Nutrients
Gender specific nutrients are missing from most over-the-counter multis and this can greatly limit protection for men and women who may need hormonal and other gender specific support. It's really not possible to target hormones and other nutrients needed specifically for men or women with one formula, thus the need for targeted formulations.
Nutrients Vital to Men
Male specific formulas require powerful botanicals. One of the products in this genre that offers potent botanicals for male-specific support is ProSource's Vital Men's. Its targeted design contains a complete spectrum of 23 vitamins and minerals in high potencies, plus antioxidant co-factors alpha lipoic acid and citrus bioflavonoids. Along with the full complement of basic nutrients, Vital Men's also includes nutrients important for men such as Korean ginseng for focus and cognition, as well as PABA (para aminobenzoic acid) to help potentiate norepinephrine levels for energy enhancement. Odorless garlic is also added for powerful free radical scavenging and helping maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Sexual support components in Vital Men's formula include raw oyster for healthy sexual function, plus saw palmetto, nettle root, pumpkin seed extract and lycopene for prostate protection.
The idea behind a comprehensive men's formula such as Vital Men's is twofold: provide basic nutrient needs while also helping support specific issues important to men such as prostate health, sexual support and cognition enhancement.
Nutrients Vital to Women
Of course, a formula designed for men is not necessarily good for women. A very comprehensive example of what specific nutrients should be included to support women's health can be found in ProSource's Vital Women's. Along with a full spectrum of B complex vitamins for energy support, its targeted approach also includes calcium, magnesium and boron to help reduce risk for osteoporosis, plus biotin to enhance nail and hair strength, growth and texture. Potent amounts of vitamins A, C and D are added plus a comprehensive mineral blend and vitamin E in the highly bioavailable d-alpha tocopherol form. In addition, horsetail herbal extract is added to support calcium absorption, citrus bioflavonoids are included for antioxidant protection and royal jelly powder is provided for immune system enhancement. Finally, Dong quai and black currant are added for hormonal support.
Many women rely on multi formulations from the grocery store shelf that are formulated by men and have a basic tendency in their design to cover health aspects important to men. Formulations like Vital Women's are crucial for targeting specific areas such as bone health, supporting menstrual cycles and strengthening hair and nails. Remember to choose according to your needs and not shop for convenience in order to gain specific results.
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Beware of the Advertising Hype
Choosing a multi formula is every bit as important as selecting meals and pre-workout or protein supplements. If you're a hard training bodybuilder or athlete and you want the very best nutrient support profile for effective performance, energy and growth support, not just any grocery store multi will do. Many lower potency formulas have limited amounts of nutrients but are advertised to give the impression that they're designed for individuals with "active lifestyles," complete with pictures and video footage of athletic men and women running and lifting weights. But looking at their ingredients labels reveals that these formulations provide very little of the nutrients or potencies required for hard training athletes.
Many other manufacturers offer "complete nutrition". As we've seen in the above examples, the idea of complete nutrition in a multi vitamin mineral formulation is obviously dependent upon an individual's specific needs. Women need extra bone health and hormone support; men require prostate protection and cognitive support; bodybuilders and athletes need high levels of energy facilitating B vitamins along with a superior selection of antioxidants. It all boils down to choosing the right formula for you.
The selection and purchase of a specific multi vitamin mineral formulation designed for your personal needs takes a little effort, but the payback in added protection and nutrient support is priceless.
Do you take a daily multi? What do you look for when you read the ingredients panel of a wide-spectrum vitamin/mineral product? Let us know in the comments field below!