There is no one size fits all when it comes to whether or not runners need to take vitamins. Whether it’s a weekend two-mile jogger, world-class marathoner, triathlete, or Olympian, everyone has their own nutritional needs as well as opinions on what, if any, supplements to take.
If a runner (or anyone else for that matter) has a diet that is incomplete, vitamins and supplements may help bridge any nutrient gaps. Everyone needs adequate macro and micro nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fats) as well as enough vitamins and minerals to keep their body functioning optimally.
While running is a great exercise for the body, some studies have shown that it can create larger amounts of oxidative stress, so ensuring nutrient levels are adequate to manage this oxidation is key. Many runners contend that calcium is necessary for bone health, but this is an individual decision. It is always best to consult your physician or healthcare provider about all of your supplement needs.
Vitamin D is called “the sunshine vitamin” because its best source is exposure to sunlight. Another excellent source is foods like egg yolks, dairy, sardines, cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, and fortified cereals, milk, dairy, and orange juice. It is difficult, however, to meet your vitamin D needs with sunshine and food alone. Some studies suggest that running can impact immune function and overall bone health. Vitamin D deficiency has become a global health concern, as it plays an important role in supporting healthy immune function and bone health. Care/of’s scientific information on vitamin D is a good resource for all you need to know about Vitamin D. And if supplementing is an option for you, their premium brand’s D supplement is The Sunny D3.
Iron deficiency is a common cause of fatigue among athletes. While the typical causal factors of iron deficiency are plant-based diet and heavy menstrual flow, there’s a condition known as Foot Strike Hemolysis (or Runner’s Anemia) that affects athletes, especially high mileage runners. It occurs as a result of the destruction of the red blood cells that pass through the feet due to the repetitive pounding of running with your heel striking first. Before making any decision about supplementing with iron, it is important to get your iron levels measured by a physician, who will recommend supplementation if necessary. Once supplementation has begun, it is essential to check your iron levels on a regular basis to prevent iron toxicity. Care/of’s information on iron is a good resource for information on iron. If supplementation is recommended, their iron Blood Buster is a premium mineral supplement.
Magnesium, an essential mineral for over 300 enzymes in the body, supports muscle function and recovery, maintains healthy bones, is required for energy production, and plays a key role in muscle contraction and relaxation. While magnesium has so many critical functions in the body , it’s also one of the best post-workout, sore muscle remedies – a good, old-fashioned Epsom’s Salts bath or a bath in magnesium flakes. Both feel great, help you relax, and enable your body to absorb magnesium through its skin.
This comprehensive review of studies on magnesium status/supplementation and athletic performance found that exercise performance may be compromised with deficient magnesium levels. Performance parameters improved in both aerobic and anaerobic activities with supplementation, demonstrating that the need for magnesium increased as the activity level increased. The researchers called for more rigorous studies to be done.
As a supplement, magnesium has relaxing properties and is often used as a sleep aid when experiencing occasional sleeplessness. It is important to consult your physician if choosing to supplement magnesium. Our magnesium supplement The Dream Weaver is a premium quality product.
Omega-3s have shown benefits for heart health, immune response, metabolism, and the health of the nervous system, skin, hair, eyes, brain, and joints. And for the runners there are even more than these health benefits, it has been demonstrated that omega-3s also help to delay and decrease the severity of post-workout soreness. Omega-3s are not made in the body, and therefore must come from the diet. Fatty, cold-water fish like tuna, salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines are excellent sources of the omegas. Nuts, seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are also considered to be excellent sources. Plant oils, like soybean oil, flaxseed oil, and canola oil, and fortified foods like cereals, eggs, and yogurts are all good sources of omegas. And while diet is generally considered to be the best option to meet all of your nutritional needs, it is often difficult to do so. Care/of has both fish and vegan-based omega-3s options. The fish oil option is cold-pressed, which enables the preservation of naturally occurring vitamins A, D, and E, and sourced from wild Alaskan salmon. The veggie omega option is sourced from microalgae.
Collagen is helpful in protecting the soft tissue and joints while running, and enhancing recovery post-workout. It’s also especially helpful for runners in terms of promoting healthy joints. While collagen is naturally produced in the body, it is lost slowly as you age. Animal and plant-based protein both help your body make collagen, and some of the best sources include beef, chicken, fish and eggs. Vitamin C helps with both the production of collagen in the body and should be consumed in conjunction with protein-rich foods or collagen supplements.
Eggshell membrane is high in protein and contains naturally occurring compounds (like collagen, calcium, and hyaluronic acid), that have been extensively studied for their role in supporting joint comfort and healthy cartilage in as little as 7-10 days. And if you are looking to supplement, Care/of’s, The Flexibility Factor is a premium quality supplement.
Protein is essential to build and repair tissues, bones, muscles, and cartilage. It is also required to make hormones and enzymes, and is key for healthy immune system function. Since muscles are made up largely of protein, it is necessary for runners when recovering and building muscle. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, a balanced diet of protein and carbs is important to manage temporary muscle damage and soreness associated with exercise.
This study showed an increase in time to fatigue in endurance athletes that had a carb and protein beverage instead of water during workout. A carb and protein beverage is made by combining protein powder (whey, plant, or collagen) with fruit and the liquid of your choice.
This study of protein intake of master marathoners demonstrated that protein intake is as important as carbohydrate intake during a marathon, and is related to better marathon performance times.
Some of the best food sources of protein are fish, seafood, skinless white-meat poultry, lean beef, skim or low-fat milk, Greek yogurt, low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, and lentils.
Care/of’s whey protein All The Whey and plant protein powder Plant Powder each contain 18 g of protein per serving.
Creatine is an amino acid found primarily in the body’s muscles and brain. The best dietary sources are red meat and seafood, though creatine is also made in the liver and kidneys. It helps with adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production which is directly linked to the energy that drives muscle contraction, among other processes. Many claim that consuming daily creatine doses in conjunction with carbohydrates and protein closely timed to your workout is believed to enhance your athletic performance.
This study on Creatine for Exercise and Sports Performance concludes that creatine supplementation shows promise in facilitating recovery following exercise-induced muscle damage, and may have potential as an aid during post-injury rehabilitation. It also contends that creatine supplementation is safe during short- and long-term intervals for healthy persons both younger and older. Creatine is also credited with supporting strength, adding additional benefits during single and repeated sprints, and may boost agility and jumping performance.
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There is no one specific course of supplementation that is best for all runners. Vitamins and supplements are, ideally, best used to bridge the nutrient gaps in a person’s diet. Whether it’s an issue that may be found in a large group of runners, like Foot Strike Hemolysis, or just post-workout soreness, it is best to consult your physician before taking any supplementation. An excellent multivitamin like Care/of’s The Foundation, or an antioxidant like their premium The Citrus Savior is usually a good prophylactic, but for specific nutrient needs, it is always best to become informed and to consult your healthcare practitioner for the best course of action for optimal health, which will lead to enhanced running performance.