As an athlete, bodybuilder, or runner, you’re more active than the average person. That means you need above average nutrition.
A multivitamin can help fill in those nutritional gaps that you’re missing, ensuring heightened levels of recovery and results.
But not all multivitamins are created the same. Let’s take a look at what an elite-level multivitamin should contain.
Whole Foods Based Multivitamins for Athletes & Bodybuilders
The majority of multivitamins that you’ll find in your local supermarket or pharmacy are synthetic extracts. This means the vitamins and minerals were created in a lab, not taken from actual fruits and vegetables.
Studies show that synthetic multivitamins have notoriously poor bioavailability and absorption rates.
This is why a synthetic vitamin contains up to a thousand percent more than your recommended daily allowance. The body excretes most of it, but that tiny bit that’s absorbed is what counts. (1)
What’s more, synthetic vitamins are not able to be used in the same way as whole food and natural extracts.
And it’s not as if you can just take double the recommended serving of a synthetic multivitamin because this can put you at risk for vitamin toxicity. (2)
When shopping for a multivitamin, look for one that is whole food based. All of the vitamins and minerals are extracts from real food, not chemicals in a lab.
Nitrates have something of a bad reputation in popular media. Some experts believe that a diet high in nitrates can increase your risk for cancer.
But there’s more to the story than what the news lets on. Processed meats contain high levels of nitrates, and do you know what else is packed with nitrates? Vegetables and fruits!
Diets that contain a high level of consumption of processed meats such as hot dogs and deli meat may increase your risk for cancer, but a vegetable and fruit-based diet does just the opposite.
What usually doesn’t get mentioned is the benefit of natural nitrates for your health. Studies show that a diet rich in natural nitrates can reduce systolic blood pressure.
Researchers agree that there is potential for a reduced risk of cardiovascular issues with a diet containing natural forms of nitrates. (3)
Athletes have also found nitrates to be helpful. One study gave athletes nitrate supplements and the results were impressive with subjects showing improved performance and quicker recovery time.
Researchers agree that “dietary NO₃ (nitrate) supplementation improves performance during intense intermittent exercise and may be a useful ergogenic aid for team sports players.” (4)
To maximize the amount of healthy nitrates in your diet, don’t overcook vegetables or fruits and stay away from processed meats.
Phytonutrients are important compounds naturally found in plants. A few examples include the following:
Ellagic Acid: A popular antioxidant, ellagic acid supports the natural process of detoxification. In particular, it helps to remove free radicals that can damage cells.
Resveratrol: Easily one of the most recognizable phytonutrient thanks to the Dr. Oz show and the Joe Rogan podcast, resveratrol is similar to ellagic acid in that it acts like an antioxidant.
Resveratrol has anti-aging benefits, helping to remove harmful compounds from the body before they have a chance to cause real damage.
Flavonoids: Another type of plant compound, flavonoids have skyrocketed in popularity due to their anti-inflammatory and pro-immunity benefits.
Studies show that phytonutrients have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. This is going to be useful if you’re looking for the best multivitamin for bodybuilders or athletes because of reduced soreness after a workout.
With that said, researchers suggest that more human studies are needed to confirm these benefits. (5)
One well-known and proven benefit of phytonutrients is their ability to significantly reduce the risk of certain diseases.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed that eating a phytonutrient-rich diet can be an effective way to reduce your risk for certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease. (6)
I briefly mentioned antioxidants above in reference to phytonutrients, but let’s delve a little deeper. Whether it’s pollution in the air or the foods we eat, our bodies are constantly battling environmental factors every day.
In response to oxidative stress, free radicals are created. These unstable cells cause damage to DNA, increasing your risk for illness, disease, and medical complications.
Antioxidants, on the other hand, are chemicals that fight back against free radical damage. (7)
Studies show that antioxidants neutralize free radicals, protecting your cells from damage. Healthy cells mean optimal longevity, so it’s easy to see why antioxidants are essential in your daily diet, especially as an athlete. (8)
The intense workouts of an athlete, runner, or bodybuilder only increases the oxidative stress in the body, creating a prime environment for more free radicals.
But a diet that is rich in antioxidants can help to eliminate those potentially troublesome free radicals.
I mentioned antioxidants above; however, there’s one type of antioxidant that I want to focus on: catechins.
Famously found in green tea and matcha, catechins are the reason that many people drink these beverages (although they may not realize it).
Catechins have been shown to promote a number of health benefits and they are especially useful for the diet of an athlete.
Studies show that catechins have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits.
For the runner or bodybuilder, this can mean reduced soreness following intense training. Reducing the inflammation response might also promote better overall recovery. (9)
Intense and extreme training sessions are all in a day’s work for a bodybuilder or athlete, but what many don’t realize is how taxing those workouts can be on the immune system.
Over-training might be up for debate, but under-recovery such as not getting enough sleep is a very real thing.
If you’re not getting the nutrients you need to support your recovery, you could be at risk for suppressing your immune response.
This will increase your chances of getting sick, and if you get sick, your symptoms could be a lot worse than normal.
Studies show that antioxidants, especially catechins, can help to boost the immune system. In fact, green tea in particular has consistently been rated as one of the best natural immune boosters and cold remedies for decades. (10)
Looking for the Best Multivitamin for Athletes?
It can be a pain to look through dozens of multivitamins, hoping to find one that meets all of the requirements listed above. Thankfully, you don’t need to do any research because I’ve done it for you.
If you want an elite-level whole-food-based multivitamin that is packed with phytonutrients, antioxidants, and natural nitrates, look no further than Next Level.
Next Level is a multivitamin specifically designed for men and women who take their workout to the next level. Check out what Next Level Super Foods Multi offers and what real athletes like yourself are saying about it.
- Yetley EA. Multivitamin and multimineral dietary supplements: definitions, characterization, bioavailability, and drug interactions. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jan;85(1):269S-276S. – Link
- Liu RH. Health benefits of fruit and vegetables are from additive and synergistic combinations of phytochemicals. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):517S-520S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/78.3.517S. – Link
- Siervo M, Lara J, Ogbonmwan I, Mathers JC. Inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation reduces blood pressure in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Nutr. 2013 Jun;143(6):818-26. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.170233. Epub 2013 Apr 17. – Link
- Wylie LJ, Mohr M, Krustrup P, Jackman SR, Ermιdis G, Kelly J, Black MI, Bailey SJ, Vanhatalo A, Jones AM. Dietary nitrate supplementation improves team sport-specific intense intermittent exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Jul;113(7):1673-84. doi: 10.1007/s00421-013-2589-8. Epub 2013 Feb 1. – Link
- Zhu F, Du B, Xu B. Anti-inflammatory effects of phytochemicals from fruits, vegetables, and food legumes: A review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2018 May 24;58(8):1260-1270. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2016.1251390. Epub 2017 Jun 12. – Link
- Hever J, Cronise RJ. Plant-based nutrition for healthcare professionals: implementing diet as a primary modality in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. J Geriatr Cardiol. 2017;14(5):355–368. doi:10.11909/j.issn.1671-5411.2017.05.012. – Link
- “Antioxidants: In Depth.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 4 May 2016. – Link
- Lee MT, Lin WC, Yu B, Lee TT. Antioxidant capacity of phytochemicals and their potential effects on oxidative status in animals – A review. Asian-Australas J Anim Sci. 2017;30(3):299–308. doi:10.5713/ajas.16.0438. – Link
- Higdon JV, Frei B. Tea catechins and polyphenols: health effects, metabolism, and antioxidant functions. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2003;43(1):89-143. – Link
- Steinmann J, Buer J, Pietschmann T, Steinmann E. Anti-infective properties of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a component of green tea. Br J Pharmacol. 2013 Mar;168(5):1059-73. doi: 10.1111/bph.12009. – Link