Vitamins, Minerals, and Amino Acids

These are all the little things that your body needs for proper functioning of various biochemical processes. Deficiencies in any of these will have consequences, some more severe than others.

But fear not, because for the most part, you get everything you need from a balanced diet. Eating fruits and vegetables is your best natural source, and processed foods are your enemy. When following a vigorous exercise regimen, you're requirements will be higher than if you were a couch potato.

The simplest way to ensure you won't suffer from a deficiency is to take a good multi-vitamin/mineral every day, and consume either meat, or a variety of plant protein sources (for essential amino acids). If you feel it is necessary because your diet isn't the greatest and/or you work out tons, you might also consider an anti-oxidant and/or stress formula.

Most of the vitamins are water soluble, and any excess is easily excreted by the body, but you have to be careful of the fat-soluble ones ( vitamins A, D, E, and K) which can build up and reach toxic levels. Taking too much of any one mineral can also be bad as it causes an imbalance, and may hog receptor sites causing deficiency symptoms to show up for another mineral.

Aside from a regular multi-vitamin/mineral tablet every day, the only thing I've seen recommended for bodybuilders (consistently) are antioxidants. These include vitamins A(beta carotene), C, E, and selenium. One other recommendation I can make from personal experience is magnesium supplementation if you can't seem to sleep a night through (about 500 mg should do it, though I've heard as much as 1000).

Here is a list of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, broken down one by one, describing function and symptoms of deficiencies. I got most of the information from 'AUSTIN NUTRITIONAL RESEARCH', an online vitamin/supplement company with loads of information! If you're really interested in all the nitty gritty details, check it out!

As time goes on, I will add to this list notes of importance to those of us training for a better body. To differentiate from the rest, my notes will be in yellow for easy identification.

A word about RDA. The RDA was a guideline established over 50 years ago to prevent scurvy and the like, but are not necessarily enough for optimum health. More recently, a new measure called the RDI, or Reference Daily Intake has been established by the FDA which does support optimum health. But it's still a minimum guideline.

Next to each heading for vitamins and minerals, I will post the new RDI values, as well as a dosage suited more to active athletes (this value should be taken as an upper limit, and not be exceeded) which I will denote by BBRDI. Both these values are taken from the 'Oxygen', a new magazine for women's fitness by Robert Kennedy.

And lastly, I will give a list of food sources which are abundant in the various micro-nutrients. These are also taken from 'Oxygen', though I will be adding other sources on my own. Maybe when I have time, I'll go over the recommended sources just to verify them (using the USDA online database). One example I checked was manganese in bananas, and according to USDA, bananas don't have a lot. So who is right? USDA looks a bit more thorough. Feel free to check any foods there if you have doubts, and let me know if you find discrepancies!


VITAMINS:All natural vitamins are organic food substances found only in living things, that is, plants and animals. With few exceptions the body cannot manufacture or synthesize vitamins. They must be supplied in the diet or in dietary supplements. Vitamins are essential to the normal functioning of our bodies. They are necessary for our growth, vitality, and general well-being. HOW THEY WORK: A lot of people think vitamins can replace food. They cannot. In fact, vitamins cannot be assimilated without ingesting food. That is why we suggest taking them with a meal. Vitamins help regulate metabolism, help convert fat and carbohydrates into energy, and assist in forming bone and tissue.

VITAMIN A (Beta Carotene) RDI:5,000IU BBRDI:25,000IU

IMPORTANCE: Necessary for growth & repair of body tissues; helps maintain smooth, soft disease-free skin; helps protect the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose , throat & lungs, thereby reducing susceptibility to infections; protects against air pollutants; counteracts night-blindness & weak eyesight; aids in bone and teeth formation. Current medical research shows that foods rich in Beta Carotene will help reduce the risk of lung cancer & certain oral cancers. Unlike Vitamin A from fish liver oil, Beta Carotene is non-toxic.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in night blindness; increased susceptibility to infections; rough, dry, scaly skin; loss of smell & appetite; frequents fatigue; lack of tearing; defective teeth & gums' retarded growth.

FOOD SOURCES: liver, fish-liver oils, carrots, leafy green vegetables.

VITAMIN B-1 (Thiamin) RDI:1.5mg BBRDI:300mg

IMPORTANCE: Plays a key role in the body's metabolic cycle for generating energy; aids in the digestion of carbohydrates; essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system, muscles & heart; stabilizes the appetite; promotes growth & good muscle tone.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May lead to the loss of appetite ; weakness & feeling tired; paralysis & nervous irritability; insomnia; loss of weight; vague aches & pains; mental depression & constipation; heart & gastrointestinal problems.

FOOD SOURCES: whole grains, brewers yeast, peas, wheat germ, peanuts, beans

VITAMIN B-2 (Riboflavin) RDI:1.7mg BBRDI:300mg

IMPORTANCE: Necessary for carbohydrate, fat & protein metabolism; aids in the formation of antibodies and red blood cells; maintains cell respiration; necessary for the maintenance of good vision, skin, nails & hair; alleviates eye fatigue; promotes general health.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in itching and burning eyes; cracks and sores in the mouth & lips; bloodshot eyes; purplish tongue; dermatitis; retarded growth; digestive disturbances; trembling; sluggishness; oily skin.

FOOD SOURCES: poultry, fish, dairy, meat, green veggies like broccoli, asparagus, and spinach.

VITAMIN B-3 (Niacin, Niacinamide) RDI:20mg BBRDI:30-100mg

IMPORTANCE: Improves circulation and reduces the cholesterol level in the blood; maintains the nervous system; helps metabolize protein, sugar & fat; reduces high blood pressure; increases energy through proper utilization of food; prevents pellagra; helps maintain a healthy skin, tongue & digestive system.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in pellagra, gastrointestinal disturbance, nervousness, headaches, fatigue, mental depression, vague aches & pains, irritability, loss of appetite, insomnia, skin disorders, muscular weakness, indigestion, bad breath, canker sores.

FOOD SOURCES: liver, lean meats, fish, nuts, legumes.

VITAMIN B-5 (Pantothenic acid)RDI:10mg BBRDI:200mg

IMPORTANCE: Participates in the release of energy from carbohydrates, fats & protein, aids in the utilization of vitamins; improves the body's resistance to stress; helps in cell building & the development of the central nervous system; helps the adrenal glands, fights infections by building antibodies.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May lead to painful & burning feet, skin abnormalities, retarded growth, dizzy spells, digestive disturbances, vomiting, restlessness, stomach stress, muscle cramps.

FOOD SOURCES: potatoes, pork, beef, eggs, fish, whole-grain cereal, and royal jelly(?).

VITAMIN B-6 (Pyridoxine) RDI:2mg BBRDI:100mg

IMPORTANCE: Necessary for the synthesis & breakdown of amino acids, the building blocks of protein; aids in fat and carbohydrate metabolism; aids in the formation of antibodies; maintains the central nervous system; aids in the removal of excess fluid of premenstrual women; promotes healthy skin; reduces muscle spasms, leg cramps, hand numbness, nausea & stiffness of hands; helps maintain a proper balance of sodium & phosphorous in the body.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in nervousness, insomnia, skin eruptions, loss of muscular control, anemia, mouth disorders, muscular weakness, dermatitis, arm & leg cramps, loss of hair, slow learning, and water retention.

FOOD SOURCES: wheat germ, chicken, fish, eggs, soybeans, bananas.

VITAMIN B-12 (Cobalamin) RDI:6mcg BBRDI:200mcg

IMPORTANCE: Helps in the formation & regeneration of red blood cells, thus helping prevent anemia; necessary for carbohydrate, fat & protein metabolism; maintains a healthy nervous system; promotes growth in children; increases energy; needed for Calcium absorption.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May lead to pernicious anemia, poor appetite, growth failure in children, tiredness, brain damage, nervousness, neuritis, degeneration of spinal cord, depression, lack of balance.

FOOD SOURCES: herring, beef, lamb, oysters, clams, poultry, tofu.

BIOTIN RDI:30-100mcg BBRDI:300mcg

IMPORTANCE: Aids in the utilization of protein, folic acid, Pantothenic acid, and Vitamin B-12, promotes healthy hair.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May lead to extreme exhaustion, drowsiness, muscle pain, loss of appetite, depression, grayish skin color.

FOOD SOURCES: liver, sardines, egg yolks, soy flour, nuts, cauliflower.

FOLIC ACID RDI:400mcg BBRDI:1,200mcg

IMPORTANCE: Necessary for DNA & RNA synthesis, which is essential for the growth and reproduction of all body cells; essential to the formation of red blood cells by its action on the bone marrow; aids in amino acid metabolism.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in gastrointestinal disorders, anemia, Vitamin B-12 deficiency, pre-mature gray hair.

FOOD SOURCES: dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, egg yolks, beef, lamb.


IMPORTANCE: Necessary for the formation of lecithin; aids in the breakdown of fats; helps reduce blood cholesterol; helps prevent thinning hair.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in high blood cholesterol, constipation, eczema, hair loss.



IMPORTANCE: Very important in controlling fat & cholesterol buildup in the body; prevents fat from accumulating in the liver; facilitates the movement of fats in the cells; helps regulate the kidneys, liver & gallbladder; important for nerve transmission; helps improve memory.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in cirrhosis and fatty degeneration of the liver, hardening of the arteries, heart problems, high blood pressure, hemorrhaging kidneys.


PABA (Para Amino Benzoic Acid) RDI:? BBRDI:?

IMPORTANCE: Aids healthy bacteria in producing folic acid; aids in the formation of red blood cells; contains sun screening properties; aids in the assimilation of Pantothenic acid; returns hair to its natural color.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May cause extreme fatigue, eczema, irritability, depressions, nervousness, constipation, headaches, digestive disorders, hair turning prematurely gray.


VITAMIN C (Ascorbic Acid) RDI:60mg BBRDI:3,000mg

IMPORTANCE: Essential for healthy teeth, gums & Bones; helps heal wounds, scar tissue, & Fractures; prevents scurvy; builds resistance to infection; aids in the prevention & treatment of the common cold; gives strength to blood vessels; aids in the absorption of iron. It is required for the synthesis of collagen, the intercellular "cement" which holds tissues together. It is also one of the major antioxidant nutrients. It prevents the conversion of nitrates (from tobacco smoke, smog, bacon, lunch meats, & some vegetables) into cancer-causing substances. According to Dr. Lines Pauling, the foremost authority on Vitamin C, Vitamin C will decrease the risk of getting certain cancers by 75%.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May lead to soft & bleeding gums, swollen or painful joints, slow-healing wounds & fractures, bruising, nosebleeds, tooth decay, loss of appetite, muscular weakness, skin hemorrhages, capillary weakness, anemia, impaired digestion.

FOOD SOURCES: citrus fruits, green peppers, collard greens, strawberries, potatoes, kiwi.


IMPORTANCE: Improves absorption and utilization of Calcium and Phosphorous; required for bone and teeth formation; maintains a stable nervous system and normal heart action.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May lead to rickets, tooth decay, softening of bones, improper healing of fractures, lack of vigor, muscular weakness, inadequate absorption of calcium, retention of phosphorous in the kidneys.

FOOD SOURCES: the sun, fortified dairy products, fish-liver oils, salmon, sardines, shrimp, butter, cream.


IMPORTANCE: Major anti-oxidant nutrient; retards cellular aging due to oxidation; supplies oxygen to the blood which is then carried to the heart and other organs; thus alleviating fatigue; aids in bringing nourishment to cells; strengthens the capillary walls & prevents the red blood cells from destructive poisons; prevents & dissolves blood clots; has also been used by doctors in helping prevent sterility, muscular dystrophy, calcium deposits in blood walls and heart conditions.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May lead to a rupture of red blood cells, loss of reproductive powers, lack of sexual vitality, abnormal fat deposits in muscles, degenerative changes in the changes in the heart and other muscles; dry skin.

SPECIAL NOTE: There are several types of Vitamin E available. D-Alpha Tocopherol (100% Natural) is 4 times more potent in biological activity than d1-Alpha Tocopherol (Synthetic) Vitamin E. For example; 100 I.U. of d-Alpha (100% Natural) Vitamin E is equal to 400 I.U. d1-Alpha Tocopherol (Synthetic) Vitamin E in biological activity. Natural Vitamin E is derived from soybeans and synthetic Vitamin E is a petroleum by-product.

FOOD SOURCES: vegetable oils, wheat germ, nuts.


As important s vitamins are, they can do nothing for you without minerals. Vitamins cannot be assimilated without the aid of minerals. And though the body can manufacture a few vitamins, it cannot manufacture a single mineral. All tissues and internal fluids of our body contain varying quantities of minerals. Minerals are constituents of the bones, teeth, soft tissue, muscle, blood, and nerve cells. They are vital to overall mental and physical well-being.

Minerals act as catalysts for many biological reactions within the body, including muscle response, the transmission of messages through the nervous system, the production of hormones, digestion, and the utilization of nutrients in foods.

CALCIUM RDI:1,000mg BBRDI:2,600mg

IMPORTANCE: Builds and maintains bones and teeth; regulates heart rhythm; eases insomnia; helps regulate the passage of nutrients in & out of the cell walls; assists in normal blood clotting; helps maintain proper nerve and muscle function; lowers blood pressure; important to normal kidney function and in current medical research reduces the incidence of colon cancer, and reduces blood cholesterol levels.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in arm and leg muscles spasms, softening of bones, back and leg cramps, brittle bones, rickets, poor growth, osteoporosis ( a deterioration of the bones), tooth decay, depression.

FOOD SOURCES: dairy products, oysters, antacid tablets, broccoli and other leafy green vegetables.


IMPORTANCE: Plays an important role in regulating the neuromuscular activity of the heart; maintains normal heart rhythm; necessary for proper calcium & Vitamin C metabolism; converts blood sugar into energy.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in calcium depletion, heart spasms, nervousness, muscular excitability, confusion; kidney stones.

FOOD SOURCES: green vegetables, oatmeal, legumes, whole grains, fruit and nuts.

IRON RDI:18mg BBRDI:60mg

IMPORTANCE: Its major function is to combine with protein and copper in making hemoglobin. Hemoglobin transports oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the tissues which need oxygen to maintain basic life functions. Iron builds up the quality of the blood and increases resistance to stress and disease. It is also necessary for the formation of myoglobin which is found only in muscle tissue. Myoglobin supplies oxygen to muscle cells for use in the chemical reaction that results in muscle contraction. Iron also prevent fatigue and promotes good skin tone.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in weakness, paleness of skin, constipation, anemia.

FOOD SOURCES: red meat, poultry, liver, nuts, chocolate, legumes, whole grains, eggs.

IODINE RDI:150mcg BBRDI:200-400mcg

IMPORTANCE: Aids in the development and functioning of the thyroid gland; regulates the body's production of energy; helps burn excess fat by stimulating the rate of metabolism; mentality, speech, the condition of the hair, skin, & teeth are dependent upon a well-functioning thyroid gland.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in an enlarged thyroid gland, slow mental reaction, dry skin & hair, weight gain, loss of physical & mental vigor.

FOOD SOURCES: iodized salt, seafood, cod-liver oil, oysters, spinach.


IMPORTANCE: Necessary for the absorption & utilization of Iron; helps oxidize Vitamin C and works with Vitamin C to form Elastin, a chief component of the Elastin muscle fibers throughout the body; aids in the formation of red blood cells; helps proper bone formation & maintenance.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in general weakness, impaired respiration, skin sores.

FOOD SOURCES: liver, seafood, nuts, meat, mushrooms.

ZINC RDI:15mg BBRDI:60mg

IMPORTANCE: Is an antioxidant nutrient; necessary for protein synthesis; wound healing; vital for the development of the reproductive organs, prostate functions and male hormone activity; it governs the contractility of muscles; important for blood stability; maintains the body's alkaline balance; helps in normal tissue function; aids in the digestion and metabolism of phosphorus.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in delayed sexual maturity, prolonged healing wounds, white spots on finger nails, retarded growth, stretch marks, fatigue, decreased alertness, susceptibility to infections.

FOOD SOURCES: whole grains, liver, meat, eggs, seafood, maple syrup.


IMPORTANCE: An antioxidant nutrient; important in the blood breakdown of amino acids and the production of energy; necessary for the metabolism of Vitamin B-1 & Vitamin E; Activates various enzymes which are important for proper digestion & utilization of foods; is a catalyst in the breakdown of fats & cholesterol; helps nourish the nerves and brain; necessary for normal skeletal development; maintains sex hormone production.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in paralysis, convulsions, dizziness, ataxia, loss of hearing, digestive problems, blindness and deafness in infants.

FOOD SOURCES: whole grains, spinach, brussel sprouts, peas, corn, bananas.

CHROMIUM RDI:120mcg BBRDI:200-800mcg

IMPORTANCE: Works with insulin in the metabolism of sugar and stabilizes blood sugar levels; cleans the arteries by reducing Cholesterol & Triglyceride levels; helps transport amino acids to where the body needs them; helps control the appetite; medical research has shown that persons with low levels of Chromium in their bodies are more susceptible to having cancer and heart problems and becoming diabetic.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in glucose intolerance in diabetics; atherosclerosis, heart disease, depressed growth, obesity, tiredness.

FOOD SOURCES: meat, liver, bread, beer, brown rice, cheese.


IMPORTANCE: Works with sodium to regulate the body's waste balance and normalize heart rhythms; aids in clear thinking by sending oxygen to the brain; preserves proper alkalinity of body fluids; stimulates the kidneys to eliminate poisonous body wastes; assists in reducing high blood pressure; promotes healthy skin.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in poor reflexes, nervous disorders, respiratory failure, cardiac arrest, muscle damage.

FOOD SOURCES: common in many foods! No need to supplement.

SELENIUM RDI:70mcg BBRDI:200-400mcg

IMPORTANCE: A major antioxidant nutrient, protects cell membranes and prevents free radical generation thereby decreasing the risk of cancer and disease of the heart and blood vessels. Medical surveys show that increased selenium intake decreases the risk of breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer. Selenium also preserves tissue elasticity; slows down the aging and hardening of tissues through oxidation; helps in the treatment and prevention of dandruff.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: May result in premature aging, heart disease, dandruff, loose skin.

FOOD SOURCES: nuts, meat, liver, whole grains, seafood.


Minerals that occur in tiny amounts or traces. They play a major role in health, since even minute portions of them can powerfully affect health. They are essential in the assimilation and utilization of vitamins and other nutrients. They aid in digestion and provide the catalyst for many hormones, enzymes and essential body functions and reactions. they also aid in replacing electrolytes lost through heavy perspiration or extended diarrhea and protects against toxic reaction and heavy metal poisoning.


AMINO ACIDS are the "building Blocks" of the body. Besides building cells and repairing tissue, they form antibodies to combat invading bacteria & viruses; they are part of the enzyme & hormonal system; they build nucleoproteins (RNA & DNA); they carry oxygen throughout the body and participate in muscle activity. When protein is broken down by digestion the result is 22 known amino acids. Eight are essential (cannot be manufactured by the body) the rest are non-essential ( can be manufactured by the body with proper nutrition).

TRYPTOPHAN (Essential Amino Acid)

A natural relaxant, helps alleviate insomnia by inducing normal sleep; reduces anxiety & depression; helps in the treatment of migraine headaches; helps the immune system; helps reduce the risk of artery & heart spasms; works with Lysine in reducing cholesterol levels.

LYSINE (Essential Amino Acid)

Insures the adequate absorption of calcium; helps form collagen ( which makes up bone cartilage & connective tissues); aids in the production of antibodies, hormones & enzymes. Recent studies have shown that Lysine may be effective against herpes by improving the balance of nutrients that reduce viral growth. A deficiency may result in tiredness, inability to concentrate, irritability, bloodshot eyes, retarded growth, hair loss ,anemia & reproductive problems.

METHIONINE (Essential Amino Acid)

Is a principle supplier of sulfur which prevents disorders of the hair, skin and nails; helps lower cholesterol levels by increasing the liver's production of lecithin; reduces liver fat and protects the kidneys; a natural chelating agent for heavy metals; regulates the formation of ammonia and creates ammonia-free urine which reduces bladder irritation; influences hair follicles and promotes hair growth.

PHENYLALAINE (Essential Amino Acid)

Used by the brain to produce Norepinephrine, a chemical that transmits signals between nerve cells and the brain; keeps you awake & alert; reduces hunger pains; functions as an antidepressant and helps improve memory.

THREONINE (Essential Amino Acid)

Is an important constituent of collagen, Elastin, and enamel protein; helps prevents fat build-up in the liver; helps the digestive and intestinal tracts function more smoothly; assists metabolism and assimilation.

VALINE (Essential Amino Acid)

Promotes mental vigor, muscle coordination and calm emotions.

LEUCINE & ISOLEUCINE (Essential Amino Acid)

They provide ingredients for the manufacturing of other essential biochemical components in the body, some of which are utilized for the production of energy, stimulants to the upper brain and helping you to be more alert.

ARGININE (Non-Essential Amino Acid)

Studies have shown that is has improved immune responses to bacteria, viruses & tumor cells; promotes wound healing and regeneration of the liver; causes the release of growth hormones; considered crucial for optimal muscle growth and tissue repair.

TYROSINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid)

Transmits nerve impulses to the brain; helps overcome depression; Improves memory; increases mental alertness; promotes the healthy functioning of the thyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands.

GLYCINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid)

Helps trigger the release of oxygen to the energy requiring cell-making process; Important in the manufacturing of hormones responsible for a strong immune system.

SERINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid)

A storage source of glucose by the liver and muscles; helps strengthen the immune system by providing antibodies; synthesizes fatty acid sheath around nerve fibers.

GLUTAMIC ACID (Non-Essential Amino Acid)

Considered to be nature's "Brain food" by improving mental capacities; helps speed the healing of ulcers; gives a "lift" from fatigue; helps control alcoholism, schizophrenia and the craving for sugar.

ASPARTIC ACID (Non-Essential Amino Acid)

Aids in the expulsion of harmful ammonia from the body. When ammonia enters the circulatory system it acts as a highly toxic substance which can be harmful to the central nervous system. Recent studies have shown that Aspartic Acid may increase resistance to fatigue and increase endurance.

TAURINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid)

Helps stabilize the excitability of membranes which is very important in the control of epileptic seizures. Taurine and sulfur are considered to be factors necessary for the control of many biochemical changes that take place in the aging process; aids in the clearing of free radical wastes.

CYSTINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid)

Functions as an antioxidant and is a powerful aid to the body in protecting against radiation and pollution. It can help slow down the aging process, deactivate free radicals, neutralize toxins; aids in protein synthesis and presents cellular change. It is necessary for the formation of the skin, which aids in the recovery from burns and surgical operations. Hair and skin are made up 10-14% Cystine.

HISTIDINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid)

Is found abundantly in hemoglobin; has been used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, allergic diseases, ulcers & anemia. A deficiency can cause poor hearing.

PROLINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid)

Is extremely important for the proper functioning of joints and tendons; also helps maintain and strengthen heart muscles.

ALANINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid)

Is an important source of energy for muscle tissue, the brain and central nervous system; strengthens the immune system by producing antibodies; helps in the metabolism of sugars and organic acids.