The dense forest of bodybuilding nutrition contains a paradox: the quantity of information available is abundant, but the wisdom of traditional diets to satisfy the primary concerns of bodybuilders is sparse and hard to find. Typical recommendations include very low-fat diets rich in protein foods like salmon and chicken.
You will search in vain through mainstream men’s health magazines to find so much as a mention of the importance of vitamin A to bodybuilding. Yet this nutrient is essential to muscle-building and may be the bodybuilder’s most potent weapon. Vitamin A is necessary for the utilization of protein and the production of testosterone and other growth factors. In fact, one human study, discussed below, found the administration of vitamin A and iron to have results equivalent to the administration of testosterone itself. Rather than advocating the consumption of vitamin-A rich foods such as liver and natural food-based supplements such as cod liver oil, mainstream men’s health writers are advocating diets very high in protein, which deplete vitamin A reserves, leaving one to wonder whether the athletes who resort to over-the-counter steroid supplements might be able to achieve similar results by consuming a traditional diet, rich in vitamin A.