We all know it's important to get our vitamins and minerals. Heck, we've been told that by our parents since the dawn of our days. They were right to say so, vitamins are crucial to essential bodily functions and maintaining a healthy physical and mental state. Every vitamin has a different job to do within the body (while some do overlap), so it's important to get a broad spectrum. Some vitamins are water soluble, and some fat soluble. The water soluble ones you can pretty much take as much as you want (though huge doses usually aren't necessary), where as fat soluble ones you don't want to overdose on, as that can have some nasty consequences.
Now you remember I wrote an article on why multivitamins aren't necessary in a highly clean and varied diet, and I still stand by that statement. However there are a few vitamins that are definitely good to supplement if you live a certain kind of lifestyle. For us gym-goers, who work out hard and heavy on a regular basis, one of the most important vitamins to supplement is vitamin B.
Why vitamin B? Well, in Olympic weightlifting, there is an enormous toll taken on your central nervous system. In fact, we lifters are almost never sore muscularly, as we have highly advanced recovery diets, massages, cold and warmth techniques, stretches, and other methods to ensure our muscles are ready to go another round only a few hours later. The main issue with the sport is allowing the central nervous system to recover, which if left to its ways is a very slow process. Pretty much the best methods of CNS recovery are: sleep, eat, and vitamin B. That's right, vitamin B is actually quite helpful when it comes to restoring CNS function in a short amount of time.
There are a couple ways to effectively supplement vitamin B. The first is to actually inject a vitamin B complex directly into the bloodstream. This ensures extremely efficient absorption, and many people who get vitamin B injections say they feel like superman the next day. Joint pain is gone, they feel wide awake, and usually cannot WAIT to lift. Believe me, that's quite the change from the normal "zombie" state associated with lifting.
The second way is to orally supplement vitamin B. While a B complex is best, I personally usually supplement very large doses of vitamin B-12, only one part of the complex. B-12 is virtually impossible to overdose on, and therefore it's easy to take a LOT of it and ensure your body has all it needs. Any extra will just come out in urine. A word of caution though, just B-12 will not completely repair your CNS completely by itself (although B-12 by itself can have a large effect), it needs support from other B vitamins such as B-5, B-6, B-2, etc. This is why it's important you do get other B vitamins in your diet, either through food or separate supplementation. A person is much more likely to overdose on other B vitamins such as B-6, so don't take it in as large a quantity as you would B-12.
Oral methods of supplementation include pills/capsules, or liquid.
Here's a lot more information on B-12 and the entire B complex via the Livestrong.com site:
Now as you may have guessed, Olympic weightlifters aren't the only people who experience CNS burnout. Anyone who hits the gym on a regular basis is at risk of "burning out," especially if you're giving it your all in the gym like you should be. Don't be afraid of getting burnt, but try to avoid it if possible. Get plenty of sleep, keep your diet up to snuff, and make sure you supplement your B vitamins. They go a LONG way in ensuring you're able to perform at your best on a constant basis.
Before I end, I'll just add a little personal note in. The very first night I took a 1500 mcg B-12 pill, I woke the next morning feeling SOOOO much better than I had the day before. The feeling of mental fatigue and cloudiness was absolutely GONE. B vitamins are an extremely powerful thing. Take advantage of what they can do for you. They're cheap, effective, and boy do they let you perform at your best.
Lift hard, lift often, be a BEAST, and as always, GOOD LUCK!