Your body needs this antioxidant to make collagen, the glue that supports joint health. If you’re sticking to the heavy basics — squats, bent rows, deadlifts and bench presses — you know these exercises can take a toll on your joints. Vitamin C can also help lower cortisol, the stress hormone associated with gut-busting training sessions that can cause the body to enter a catabolic (muscle-burning) state.
Good sources: peppers, broccoli, oranges, tomatoes, cantaloupe, strawberries and cauliflower.
As a supplement: Taking 500-1,000 milligrams (mg) with your postworkout meal can offset cortisol levels.
Vitamin E can decrease the amount of creatine kinase (CK) activity — CK is an enzyme that indicates muscle damage. It’s believed a high intake of E can help reduce damage, leading to better recovery and muscle repair. One study showed that a very high dose (900 international units [IU]) could also potentially help in the storage of glycogen.
Good sources: wheat germ, soybeans, eggs, nuts, sweet potatoes, spinach and molasses.
As a supplement: Take 200-800 IU with your postworkout meal.