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A–Z of nutritional supplements: dietary supplements, sports nutrition foods and ergogenic aids for health and performance: Part 41
  1. M K Ranchordas1,
  2. B Lundy2,
  3. L M Burke2,
  4. S J Stear3,
  5. L M Castell4
  1. 1Department of Sport, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia
  3. 3Performance Influencers Limited, London, UK
  4. 4Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to L M Castell, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; lindy.castell{at}

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Introductory remarks

Vitamin preparations have been a stalwart of the supplement industry. They reflect both our understanding that they are, by definition, essential for optimal health and function, as well as our fears that either the food supply, or the way we consume it, fails to provide us with optimal amounts of these micronutrients. In the case of B-vitamins, the greatest research interest in supplementation occurred around World War II, tied to the reasonably new discovery of many of these vitamins and the interest in adequate war rations and military feeding plans. Even with the more targeted interest in sports nutrition, the topic of vitamin supplementation seems dated, with most available studies dating back to the early 1990s. The interest in vitamin K in sports nutrition, however, is more contemporary, due to its role in bone health.

Vitamin B

M K Ranchordas

The B-vitamins are water-soluble vitamins that play crucial roles in energy metabolism. There are eight B-vitamins: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5) pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), involved in energy-producing pathways; folic acid (B9), cobalamin (B12) involved in synthesising new cells, red blood cells and in cell repair. The richest sources of B-vitamins are unprocessed foods such as whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts, dairy products and animal foods such as meat and eggs but, in many countries, foods such as cereals and bread are fortified with these vitamins.

It has been reported that inadequate intake and deficiencies in B-vitamins could impair athletic performance.1 ,2 Studies examining dietary intakes of B-vitamins in …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.