Many people know that they need to eat proper amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats and vegetables for optimum nutrition and performance, but have loads of questions about whether or not they need vitamins and other supplements on top of a healthy, balanced diet. The short answer is that most people who eat a healthy, balanced diet should be getting most of the vitamins and minerals, which are called micronutrients, that they need from the food that they eat. However, if you do NOT eat a healthy, balanced diet, you may want to consider a multi-vitamin.
Athletes, especially those who are restricting their caloric intake, should be particularly careful to make sure that they are eating a healthy and balanced diet because exercise creates greater demand for several essential micronutrients. These include calcium, Vitamins A, C, D, and E, many of the B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and beta-carotene. Therefore, regular consumption of a multi-vitamin may be even more beneficial to athletes.
Should athletes be supplementing in addition to multi-vitamins? To date, the research doesn’t seem to indicate that routine supplementation of most vitamins and minerals provides much in the way of benefits to well-nourished athletes consuming a balanced diet. However, endurance athletes in particular may wish to have their physician conduct bloodwork to determine if they have any micronutrient deficiencies, and if any such deficiencies cannot be fixed through diet, they can work with their physician to determine an appropriate level of supplementation.