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You try your best to eat whole, clean foods, but even if your diet is plentiful in fruits and vegetables, you might be missing out on one key vitamin. According to a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism and conducted by Oregon State University, active people lacking vitamin B may perform worse during high-intensity exercise and are less likely to properly repair broken-down muscle.

The vitamin B family encompasses thiamin, riboflavin, B-12, vitamin B-6 and folate. They are dubbed micronutrients and are essential for the body to be able to convert proteins and sugars into energy.

Researchers conducting the study report that the current national vitamin B daily intake recommendations — 600 international units (IU) for people ages 1 to 70 years — might be too low.

“The most vulnerable people are often the individuals society expects to be the healthiest,” says Melinda Manore, a researcher in the Colleges of Agricultural Health and Human Sciences. “There’s a lot of pressure on women in particular to look like an ‘athlete.’ Unfortunately for some people that means skinny and petite, rather than healthy and strong.”

Vitamin B-rich foods include whole and enriched grains, dark green vegetables, nuts and some animal and dairy products. For more intense athletes, Manore suggests talking to a physician about taking mineral supplements, as eating these foods might not be enough to meet the requirement necessary to thrive.

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