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What Nutrients are Needed to Build Muscle

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Sports science has studied the physical requirements to build muscle for years so we will not list the foods needed to build muscle but rather the actual nutrients that are vitally important for muscle hypertrophy to occur. The process of building or repairing muscle is called protein synthesis and the nutrients listed below are required for protein synthesis to occur on a sustainable basis.

Vitamin C:

At the top of the list for a good reason, it is a key ingredient of collagen required to build a muscle, it also transports oxygen and other nutrients to the muscle. All vegetables have Vitamin C in them so the more colorful you can make your plate of food the more Vitamin C you're getting.

Although the government RDA is 75mg, when exercising one should take a more but when training to increase muscle mass then 150mg would be advised by the experts. You get around 100mg from a large orange or a red bell pepper or 75mg from a cup of strawberries.

Omega 3:

Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish oil but there are many good sources of Omega 3 like walnuts and flax seed. Sufficient amounts of Omega 3 can also be found in all algae based supplements plus hemp seeds and chia seeds.

The American Heart Association suggest two 3.5 ounce servings once a week of fatty fish (lake trout, mackerel, salmon or sardines and tuna). But it can easily be taken as a supplement of 1,000 to 3,000mg of DHA and EPA every day.


Another obvious requirement for muscle growth is calcium. Sports science now tell us that every time we contract a muscle to lift a weight we require Calcium to cue the muscles. The experts on health tell us we need at least 1,200mg a day but all vegetables have calcium and it can also be found in milk products. If you take calcium supplements, make sure you take it with Vitamin D which it needs to absorb calcium.


Women need magnesium more than men but it certainly is a requirement when lifting weights to gain muscle. The health experts tell us that 310 to 320mg a day is recommended. It is common for bodybuilders to take a 400mg capsule once a day when training hard.

Magnesium can also be commonly found in the foods we eat like spinach, legumes and whole grains as well as all nuts. It can also be absorbed through the skin by bathing in Epsom salts.

B Vitamins:

You need the basics to build muscle and they are from the top down B12(cobalamin) B7(Biotin) B6(pyridoxine), B3(niacin) B2(riboflavin) and B1(thiamine). Vitamin B's are irreplaceable being responsible for all protein metabolism, the production of ATP(energy) and the breakdown of carbs and fats.

Most people get their B requirement from eating whole grains, lean meats and eggs but they can easily be found in legumes and all leafy greens. Vegetarians need to be careful as most B vitamins are found in animal meat but they can also be found in fortified cereals and nuts. The experts recommend 2.4mcg (micrograms) a day.

Vitamin D:

Sports science now tell us we need Vitamin D to boost our immunity and build muscle but more importantly is that we need Vitamin D to contract a muscle and it is directly needed to enable muscle repair. It is also an essential part of bone growth and general health. The experts recommend 4000 to 6000IU(international units) every day of D3, a blood test would tell you if you do not get enough.

Vitamin E:

The last vital nutrient needed for muscle growth is vitamin E which is an anti-oxidant responsible cell membrane recovery. This means Vitamin E will help to speed up recovery after a workout and therefore build muscle faster. The experts recommend 15mg a day of Vitamin E but a handful of almonds after a workout would also suffice.

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