The Best Vitamins For Runners
If you’re a regular runner, then you really need to read this blog post as we’re about to unveil the 10 Vitamins Every Runner Should Be Consuming. It’s a well-known fact that 80% of how you look is down to nutrition and when it comes to running, fuelling yourself with the correct vitamins and minerals will really help you to not only perform better but also recover faster. The choices you make in the kitchen are every bit, if not more important, than the running shoes you purchase. Diet choices can make all the difference between progression and plateauing.
10 Vitamins Every Runner Should Be Consuming
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s just have a quick word about the importance of micronutrients. Micronutrients are the building blocks your body needs to stay active and healthy. They’re the essential vitamins and nutrients your body craves to function optimally. They’re different to macronutrients (which are carbs, proteins, and fats) in that your body doesn’t require as many of them, but that doesn’t make them any less relevant. Far from it. Micronutrients play a crucial part in the production of enzymes, hormones, and proteins and can help not only with improving physical but also mental functions.
If You’re Running Regularly, You Need More Vitamins and Minerals
If you are frequent runner, it’s possible that your reserves of vitamins, minerals, and those all-important micronutrients will quickly get tapped out. Even if you are following a well balanced and nutritionally sound diet, you might still need to top up your levels of certain essential vitamins. The best way to get the vitamins you need is, of course, from the food you consume, but supplements are always a convenient back-up. So let’s take a look now at the 10 essential micronutrients we recommend that runners consume and some abundant food sources to get them from.
1. Vitamin C
This is perhaps the most important of all the vitamins and is in charge of what’s known as intercellular maintenance. What that means is your capillaries, teeth, and bones. A deficiency in Vitamin C can lead to ailments, including joint pain and slower recovery times after injury. It’s also a useful vitamin to ward off upper respiratory tract infections, which can be a side effect of long-distance running. We could go on! It’s an antioxidant, helps boost energy production, and is also the building block of collagen.
Some of the best sources of Vitamin C include oranges, kiwis, pineapple, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale.
2. Vitamin D
We require Vitamin D to make Calcium, which keeps our bones strong. A deficiency in this crucial vitamin can lead to chronic inflammation, especially if you over train. It could also lead to stress fractures. Vitamin D is critical in providing energy to the muscles, and tests have proven that a daily dose of vitamin D can leave your feeling less fatigued.
When it comes to Vitamin D, it’s not so much about what you consume but rather exposure to sunshine, which can make all the difference. That’s where runners have an advantage, as they’re more likely to spend time outdoors and be exposed to what’s also known as the “sunshine vitamin”.
3. Vitamin A
Our next Vitamin is A, and it performs a whole host of vital functions, including strengthening of the immune system and assisting with better vision. It’s an incredible antioxidant which can help protect against exposure to free radicals, something that outdoors runners are particularly susceptible to.
The best food sources to be consuming if you need to up your Vitamin A levels are things like sweet potatoes, carrots, green leafy vegetables, eggs, beef as well as peaches.
4. Vitamin E
This is another powerful antioxidant and helps the body remain resilient to bacteria and viruses which can threaten the immune system. If you do a lot of intense running, you really need to stay on top of your Vitamin E levels.
Great sources include almond and sunflower seeds as well as olive oil and peanut butter.
Everyone knows that Calcium is essential for strong bones, which is particularly important if you are participating in a regular high impact sport like running. Eating a Calcium-rich diet can actively help runners avoid the risk of stress fractures. Calcium has a further beneficial effect in aiding muscle contraction and proper blood clotting.
If you specifically want to increase your Calcium intake, then go for milk, cheese, salmon and dark leafy greens.
Our cells and organs are full of iron, and it’s required in the formation of myoglobin and hemoglobin, which help improve the efficient transfer of oxygen. If your body is lacking in red blood cells as a result of a diet deficient in iron, it can lead to complications such as anemia and chronic fatigue.
To add more iron into your daily diet, increase your intake of eggs, beef, spinach, raisins as well as dark green leafy vegetables.
Potassium is an electrolyte as is Sodium. When we sweat, we lose both of these, which can lead to muscle cramps. Optimal levels of Potassium can help to speed up recovery and promote a better balanced and more hydrated body. Not enough Potassium could also lead to issues such as hypertension and high blood pressures.
Grab yourself a banana, some dried fruits, potatoes, or even a glass of milk to top up those Potassium levels.
Did you know that the human body is composed of roughly 25 grams of Magnesium? It’s stored either in the skeletal muscles or in the muscles, soft tissue and our body fluids. It helps to maintain a whole host of essential human functions. Everything from nerve functioning, to metabolism, bone health to blood pressure. If levels of Magnesium become too low, runners can experience more frequent cramps, especially if they’ve been sweating profusely.
The best ways to top up the body’s Magnesium level is to consume more leafy greens, Swiss chard, pumpkin seeds as well as quinoa.
Zinc is lost through sweat and urine, and while it is naturally found in some foods, it’s more commonly taken as a supplement.
If you want to take on board more Zinc the natural way, then eat more dark meats, poultry, oysters and seafood.
Sodium is essential for muscle contraction, maintaining optimal hydration, and regulating the body’s pH balance. When we sweat a lot, we lose Sodium.
This is an easy one to add back into your diet as it’s commonly found in our regular table salt and has a taste that most people find pleasing. In some cases too much so! Keep on top of your Sodium intake, especially if you are a regular runner but be careful not to overdo it. No more than one teaspoon of salt per day is necessary to retain a healthy balance and beneficial effect.