Your Exercise Fitness
Nutrition Guide



Facts and advice about vitamins, minerals and supplements. Make better exercise fitness nutrition choices to keep your body balanced and healthy.

Importantly you should remember that if you have a healthy balanced diet, then you will already be taking in most of the vitamins and minerals you need.

There is varied advice on exercise fitness nutrition supplements. We'll look at why you may want, or even need, to take them. Advice for children and pregnant women won't be covered on this page, please refer to your health professional.

Supplement daily maximum values are explained below under "Exercise Fitness Nutrition - Supplements".
(RDA = recommended daily allowance in the UK, unless otherwise stated).



Exercise Fitness Nutrition - Vitamins

Vitamins are the bridges in essential chemical reactions in your body. A vital part of your exercise fitness nutrition.

Each vitamin is associated with a function. Without those bridges, your body will struggle to complete specific actions, and you may end up with a deficiency disease.

Your body can't create most vitamins, so it's vital to get them through what you eat. If you eat a range of food high in nutrients (i.e. a healthy balanced diet!) your body will stay happy.

Vitamins can be divided in to 2 groups, water-soluble and fat-soluble.



Water-soluble vitamins

These vitamins can't be stored in your body. If you have too much of them, then they dissolve into your urine and escape.

This results in 3 things. You have to take in water-soluble vitamins everyday, to top up the levels in your body. And as there is a regulatory system, taking too many of these vitamins shouldn't do any damage (up to a point).

The third thing, is that many of these vitamins are lost or destroyed in heat and water when cooking. So food like fish, potatoes and vegetables, all high in nutrients, are better grilled, steamed or baked instead of boiled.

The water-soluble vitamins are:

  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid).. RDA 40mg. Helps produce collagen, needed in healing. Helps your immune system and blood vessels keep strong. Also helps the body absorb iron. Sources include fruit, fruit juices, potatoes and vegetables.
    Supplement daily maximum: 1000mg.

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamin).. RDA 0.8mg (women), 1mg (men). Needed to break down carbohydrates into energy. Also helps your nervous system and heart muscles keep strong. Sources include wholegrain bread, vegetables, fish, nuts and pork.
    Supplement daily maximum: 100mg.

  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin).. RDA 1.1mg (women), 1.3mg (men). Needed to break down carbohydrates, fat and protein into energy. Helps keep your nervous system, skin and mucous membranes strong. Sources include eggs, milk, vegetables and liver.
    Supplement daily maximum: 40mg.

  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin).. RDA 13mg (women), 17mg (men). Needed to break down food into energy. Helps keep your nervous system, skin and mucous membranes (linings in your body) strong. Sources include chicken, pork, beef and eggs.
    Supplement daily maximum: 17mg (Nicotinic Acid), 500mg (Nicotinamide).

  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid).. RDA 6mg (EU amount). Needed to break down food into energy. Helps keep your nervous system strong. Sources include wholegrain bread, chicken, beef, liver, most vegetables, eggs and nuts.
    Supplement daily maximum: 200mg.

  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine).. RDA 1.2mg (women), 1.4mg (men). Needed to break down protein to amino acids, and helps transport iron. Sources include fish, chicken, beef, eggs, wholegrain bread and rice, nuts and potatoes.
    Supplement daily maximum: 10mg.

  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin).. RDA 0.15mg (EU amount). Needed to break down food into energy. Sources include eggs, nuts and dried fruit.
    Supplement daily maximum: 0.9mg.

  • Vitamin B9 (Folic acid).. RDA 0.2mg. Needed for healthy cell division and producing red blood cells. Also keeps your nervous system strong, and is vital in early stages of pregnancy. Sources include broccoli, spinach, beans, peas and wholegrain rice.
    Supplement daily maximum: 1mg.

  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalt derivatives).. RDA 0.001mg. Needed to break down food into energy and helps absorb folic acid. Helps keep your nervous system strong, needed for healthy cell division and producing red blood cells. Sources include any animal produce including meat, fish, milk, eggs and cheese.
    Supplement daily maximum: 2mg.



    Fat-soluble vitamins

    These vitamins can be stored in your body. If you have too much (way too much!) of them, then they can be harmful. They are stored in your fat (surprise surprise) and liver.

    This means that you don't need an intake of them everyday. Fat-soluble vitamins are also more sturdy than water-soluble vitamins, meaning they aren't destroyed with cooking heat.

    The fat-soluble vitamins are:

  • Vitamin A (Retinol).. RDA 0.6mg (women), 0.7mg (men). Needed to keep skin and mucous membranes (linings in your body) healthy, and improve vision in darkness. Helps to keep your immune system strong. Sources include oily fish, carrots, apricots, milk and butter.
    Supplement daily maximum: 1.5mg.

  • Vitamin D (Ergocalciferol and Cholecalciferol).. RDA 0.005mg (EU amount). Needed to keep teeth and bones strong. Helps in cell division. Sources include direct sunlight (activates the vitamin which forms in your skin, take care to balance this positive of direct sunlight with its many negatives), oily fish, eggs and butter.
    Supplement daily maximum: 0.025mg.

  • Vitamin E (Tocopherols and Tocotrienols).. RDA 3mg (women), 4mg (men). Works as an antioxidant, needed to protect body cells from free radicals. Sources include vegetable oils, olive oil and nuts.
    Supplement daily maximum: 540mg.

  • Vitamin K (Phylloquinone and Menaquinone).. RDA 0.06mg (women, US amount), 0.08mg (men, US amount). Needed for blood clotting and healthy bones. Sources include bacteria in your gut, spinach, broccoli and vegetable oils.
    Supplement daily maximum: 1mg.



    Exercise Fitness Nutrition - Minerals

    Minerals are also essential for your body to function normally. They are a vital part of your exercise fitness nutrition. Without them your body will suffer from deficiency, most commonly being anaemia (iron deficiency).

    Most minerals are only needed in extremely small amounts, and some in trace amounts. A balanced healthy diet will provide you with most of these.



    Essential minerals

    These are the minerals required in larger amounts than trace minerals. These essential minerals are:

  • Calcium.. RDA 700mg. Needed to keep teeth and bones strong, helps blood clot. Also helps in muscle contractions and nerve activity. Sources include dairy produce (especially semi-skimmed milk), bread, cabbage, sardines.
    Supplement daily maximum: 1500mg.

  • Iron.. RDA 14.8mg (women), 8.7mg (men). Needed to help transport oxygen around the body in red blood cells. Helps in metabolism and keeps your immune system strong. Sources include meat (especially liver and lamb), brown rice, wholegrain cereals (with added iron).
    Supplement daily maximum: 17mg.

  • Sodium Chloride (salt).. RDA 1600mg (Sodium), 2500mg (Chloride), 6000mg (salt). Needed to regulate the balance of fluids in your body. Sources include all foods.
    Supplement daily maximum: General over consumption in your diet means supplements are not advised.
    Click here for everyday tips to eat less salt.

  • Potassium.. RDA 3500mg. Needed to regulate the balance of fluids in your body. Helps keep your nervous system strong. Sources include milk, dried fruit and fish.
    Supplement daily maximum: 3700mg.

  • Magnesium.. RDA 270mg (women), 300mg (men). Needed to break down food into energy. Helps with muscle activity. Sources include fish, spinach and nuts.
    Supplement daily maximum: 400mg.

  • Phosphorus.. RDA 550mg. Needed to break down food into energy. Helps keep teeth and bones strong. Sources include all major food groups.
    Supplement daily maximum: 2500mg.



    Trace minerals

    These minerals are needed in very, very small amounts. They are also an essential part of your exercise fitness nutrition:

  • Zinc
  • Fluoride
  • Iodine
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Chromium
  • Cobalt
  • Silicon



    Exercise Fitness Nutrition - Supplements

    In my view there are 2 types of supplements. Those used by sports people and athletes, that are both legal and effective (e.g. high energy drinks, protein shakes). And those used by you and me, vitamin and mineral supplements (e.g. multivitamins).

    For general health and fitness, I think that there is no need to take any kind of performance enhancing supplements. Without careful supervision, you could end up putting fat on with protein shakes, rather than building muscle, for example.

    For that reason, and for the focus of this page, I will discuss vitamin and mineral supplements as part of your exercise fitness nutrition.

    A balanced healthy diet will provide you with most of your nutrients. This is your starting block, improving your diet.

    So when is it a good idea to take supplements?

    There are illnesses and conditions where you may need supplements of a specific nutrient to stay healthy. If you are concerned then see your health professional. The same goes if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.

    There is also the idea that over-farming has lead to soil lacking in nutrients. This has a knock on effect on your food. Combined with more hectic and stressful lifestyles, I think there is a valid argument for daily multivitamin supplements.

    Hectic doesn't mean healthy though. This is where your exercise fitness nutrition comes in. If you do at least 30 minutes of pulse raising exercise everyday, then I recommend taking daily multivitamin supplements.

    There is no performance enhancement from multivitamins. The reason to take them is to keep your immune system strong, by ensuring that your water-soluble vitamin levels are kept high. This will also keep your energy producing systems running smoothly.

    There is a worry of taking too many nutrients. Supplement daily maximum values are listed under each nutrient. Some nutrients are toxic when taken too much. After a Government assessment in the UK, they published these maximum values. They are guidelines to let healthy adults know, up to what point each nutrient is "unlikely to cause any harm".


    Final Word

    It's your decision after all. It's up to you to be sensible about your exercise fitness nutrition. Listen to the facts rather than the hype.

    Personally, I don't take supplements daily. I did when recovering from operations, and I still do whenever I start to feel ill or run-down. They seem to help. The rest of the time I rely on my diet.

    I'm not suggesting that multivitamins cure the common cold or anything like that! But this is just what works for me and my exercise fitness nutrition.

    Find out what works for you.

    Return to Exercise Fitness Diet from Exercise Fitness Nutrition.
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