The Best Vitamins & Minerals For Hikers
Ensuring that you follow a well-balanced and nutritionally sound diet is essential if you want to promote good health and well-being. However, that’s even more crucial if you partake in arduous physical activity where you are likely to expend significant amounts of calories.
Take Hiking And In Particular, Thru-Hiking
On shorter trips of less than a week, your body’s own natural reserves may well be sufficient to get you through the adventure without having to take on board too many additional vitamins and minerals. As long as you’ve packed your food reserves wisely, you should be able to get away without the need for supplements.
Even on short trips and weekends away, it’s vital that the food you do take with you contains all the vitamins and minerals your body requires to stay energized. Your trail diet should strike a balance between quality, quantity, taste, variety, simplicity, and yes, be nutritionally sound and deliver the right vitamins, and minerals hikers need to consume to stay healthy.
Preparation Is Key To Staying Healthy
Before you head off on any trek experience, you need to adequately prepare your body for both the physical and mental stresses ahead. That involves boosting your nutrition to strengthen your body from the inside out. Depending upon where in the world you’re hiking and the local conditions, it’s vital that you boost your immune system and manage inflammation even before you lace up those hiking Gore-tex boots. It’s also essential that you build up your intestinal flora by taking a regular probiotic so that your body is better able to digest foreign food sources and irregular drinking water supplies.
The Stronger Your Gut, The Better Your Body Can Protect You
If you are going to be taking supplements to build up your tolerance, it’s an excellent idea to start taking them about six weeks to one month before your trek. Of course, if you are just a day hiker, then this level of preparation isn’t necessary, but it’s always a good idea generally to take a daily multivitamin as well as a probiotic.
Vitamins & Minerals Hikers Need To Consume To Stay Healthy
Vitamins and minerals are the essential building blocks our body needs to stay healthy. They act almost like spark plugs within our body, firing up whenever we exert ourselves through physical activity such as hiking.
Vitamins and minerals assist our bodies to utilize better the energy generated from the food we consume via carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Some vitamins and minerals help the body to burn energy efficiently, and others can help our muscles contract and relax.
When you’re hiking, especially for long durations, the body may well go into a calorie deficit as the energy being expended is far greater than that being consumed, so it’s critical that what you do feed it is rich in the nutrients it requires to recover. Without the correct balance of vitamins and minerals, performance can be affected, and recovery impeded.
The best course of action is to eat a well-balanced and varied diet, but when you’re hiking, it might not always be practical to take on board the right combination of unsaturated oils, fresh fruits, and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes that you might ordinarily consume. That’s where understanding specifically which vitamins and minerals are recommended for hikers is super important.
Vitamins & Minerals Recommended For Hikers
In particular, hikers need to focus on consuming the following to stay healthy:
- Vitamin B group
- Vitamin D
- Antioxidants including Vitamin A, C, and E
Perhaps the most important group of vitamins for a hiker is the B group. These are essential for optimizing the production of energy as well as helping to build and repair muscle tissue. Without the right combination of B vitamins, the body can quickly become fatigued and be slow to recover after any strenuous exercise. These vitamins provide vital functions, especially when it comes to exercise and energy metabolism.
- B1 – Thiamin
- B2 – Riboflavin
- B3 – Niacin
- B5 – Pantothenic Acid
- B6 – Pyridoxine
- B7 – Biotin
Nutrients, Functions And Food Sources
Let’s take a more detailed look into five of the essential vitamins and minerals recommended that hikers consume to stay healthy. We’ll also consider their principle benefit and some common food sources they can be abundantly found in.
Also known as Beta-Carotene, Vitamin A is essential for growth and development and protecting the immune system. It’s vital in the formation of red blood cells as well as skin and bones and is also known to improve vision. To ensure that your levels of Vitamin A are adequately topped up, you should be eating a diet rich in eggs, milk, yellow and orange vegetables as well as plenty of leafy green vegetables.
Thiamin commonly referred to as B1 is essential for supporting the nervous system and for converting the food we eat into energy. Hence why it’s so crucial for hikers or anyone undergoing physical activity. It can be found in whole grains, cereals, pasta, rice, nuts, and seeds, all of which are easy food sources to pack and take with you on a trek.
For healthy cell growth and development as well as once again converting the food we consume into the energy we create, then Riboflavin, also known as B2, is crucial. It can be found in eggs, milk, lean meats and green vegetables including asparagus, spinach, and broccoli.
Niacin is another vital vitamin and mineral for hikers to take on board as it helps with the digestive system as well as energy production. Hikers can conveniently grab a handful of peanuts on the go to top up on their B3 levels or tuck into a supper of rice with fish or chicken.
Finally, to stay healthy and energized on that trail or hike, then Pantothenic Acid, commonly known as B5 is a must-consume vitamin. It can be found in nuts and seeds, so its ideal to take on a trip for snacking mid-hike and is also prevalent in seafood, whole grains as well as avocados. B5 metabolizes protein, carbohydrate, and fat as well as regulating the nervous system and promoting healthy hormone production.