The market is full of vitamins for runners that are supposed to help us to stay healthy and injury free. When I first started to pay more attention to my nutrients as an athlete and also which vitamins are important for me this entire topic was a little overwhelming for me.
Our bodies require a balanced diet of nutrients for runners in order to perform great. I’m always a fan of whole foods before any kind of vitamins for runners but it is actually extremely hard to fuel your body with everything you really need by foods only. Do you really know how much vitamin C you’re getting per day? No right? And that’s where vitamins and nutrients for runners steps in.
What are the best vitamins for runners?
The easiest way to get a great overview of what your body is in need of is by getting blood work done from a General Physician. After a few days, you will be getting the results with detailed information about what kind of vitamins for runners, you should take and consume and what vitamins are the best for you at this point. I will also link to my favorite products that I’ve been using for years now for you to check them out.
Overview of what kind of vitamins and nutrients runners should take
There’s disbelief that runners do not need to take any form of protein. It’s for weightlifters and bodybuilders, but it’s not the right nutrient for endurance athletes. During longer runs, our bodies start to break down muscle to help to stay fueled. A skinny runner oftentimes runs very low on protein. The muscle mass is very low due to the lack of protein.
I can totally see a trend in a body image of looking strong instead of skinny. Therefore if that’s your goals as well the right amount of protein is 2 grams per kilogram of your body weight per day. Is protein powder good for runners?
If your protein intake after consuming chicken, eggs, fish and dairy is still too low, the perfect protein for runners is whey protein. You can add it in the morning to your breakfast shake or at night before bed mixed with water or almond milk.
One of the best and most necessary vitamins for runners is a multivitamin. Read the label carefully and make sure that it meets the daily intakes for each nutrient for runners with about 100%.
It’s important to know that our bodies absorb non-oxide forms of minerals much better than oxide forms. Check out this Multivitamin for runners. It is important to understand though that a multivitamin cannot truly substitute for a poor diet. You will for sure save yourself from a specific vitamin and mineral deficiencies but it is always better for you to benefit from the good that real foods do.
What exactly is iron? It’s a vital component of hemoglobin which is a compound that is responsible for delivering oxygen throughout our bodies. When find yourself having low energy levels and you’re running and also recovery is suffering you might need a higher iron intake.
Your iron level should get tested from your doctor before you are taking an iron supplement. Vegetarians and vegans experience a loss of amounts of iron as well. I had a really good experience with this product.
As an athlete, you want to make sure that you help your body to rebound stronger from every run than before. Calcium supplementation is one of the most important in order to do so. The same way we need protein to help our muscles to repair, we also need calcium for stronger bones.
Calcium (and also Vitamin D) are essential to building strong bones. By checking your calcium levels regularly you will prevent yourself from getting a stress fracture for instance. So make sure your diet is high in calcium.
If you are not able to consume a few servings of dairy per day, I recommend taking calcium supplementation for runners. A dose of 500-milligram calcium citrate supplement once per day, with or without food is the ideal amount. Here’s a great product that I’ve been using for years now.
#5. B Vitamins
Why are B vitamins so important for athletes? The reason why runners or athletes, in general, should take B vitamins is that they are responsible for helping your body convert food into the energy you’ll need during your next workout. B vitamins are essential for runners energy metabolism. Some of them help produce energy during exercise; others help produce red blood cells, synthesize protein and repair strained tissues.
What are B Vitamins? B Vitamins are thiamin, riboflavin, folate, B-6, and B-12. The more active you are the more riboflavin and vitamin B-6 you will need.
If you are not taking enough B vitamins you can feel an impact on your performance.
So here’s the deal with beetroot. When I started running, I read in a magazine that drinking bottles and bottles of beetroot juice before a race will help me to run faster and longer. But does it really work? Full of naturally occurring nitrates beets are compounds that convert to nitric oxide in the body while expanding your blood vessels and decreasing the amount of oxygen that you need during running.
There are researches that found out that with beetroot you can actually improve your 5K race pace by 1-2%. Does beetroot help with running? For me, it has helped me during my long runs and marathons for sure. My go-to tip is to drink up to 3 cups of beetroot juice the week leading up to the race. I couldn’t stand the taste so I decided to take capsules instead.
#7. Vitamin D
Another very important vitamin for runners is Vitamin D. Pretty much the biggest amount of vitamin D intake comes from sunlight. In the winter time, this percentage is way less than in the summer time which can cause a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is crucial when it comes to both bone and muscle health and when you’re not getting enough Vitamin D, it may increase your injury risk.
How much vitamin D should an athlete take? I recommend taking at least 1000 IU per day to maintain the optimal 25 (OH) D status. If you’re already taking a multivitamin, make sure to count in the intake of vitamin D from that one as well.
Fatty fish, irradiated mushrooms and some fortified foods, such as milk, orange juice, and cereal contain Vitamin D. It is very difficult to get enough vitamin D from your diet alone, so definitely consider taking a supplement as well.
#8 Potassium and Sodium
Potassium for runners is great to balance the fluid and electrolyte levels in your body. As we know, a steady fluid level is responsible for helping to regulate the heartbeat and prevent our muscles from cramping. Most likely your diet already covers the right amount of potassium so there’s no extra supplementation necessary.
Foods like bananas, baked potatoes, winter squash, milk and yogurt, pinto beans and spinach are great sources for your potassium. How much potassium should an athlete take? It is recommended to take 2,300 mg of sodium and 4,700 mg of potassium.
Having your electrolytes under control will help you a lot during your training. Especially in the summer, when it’s hot outside and we sweat even more, it is super important to retain the right amount of water. Consider electrolytes drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade as well. This is my favorite potassium supplement, it’s pretty affordable and works really great.
Why eating real food is the best
Even though vitamins for runners who come as pills are pretty accessible nowadays, it is the best way to get vitamins and nutrients for runners from real food rather than supplements pills. We live in a culture where popping a pill instead of consuming real food and giving your body what it really needs is super common.
So again, if you have the choice and the resources, try to take as many vitamins and nutrients for runners through your diet. Always keep in mind that as a runner, your nutrition/vitamins and nutrients are really important for you. Why is nutrition important for runners?
First of all good nutrition for runners is important to maintain good health but also to be able to run your best. Peak performance and a well-balanced diet go hand in hand. That includes enough carbohydrates, protein, fats as well as your vitamins and minerals.
Supplements for runners
I wrote an entire article about supplements for runners with detailed information about each supplement. From BCAA’s, Glutamine, L-Carnitine and many more. Please find more information about supplements runners should take here.