I try to hit my freggie (yes that’s fruits and veggies) goal of 7-9 servings daily.
I try to limit my processed foods.
I try to keep it whole, healthy and clean.
But even if I were a perfect specimen of an eater, as an athlete I’d still be reaching for vitamins. Not only do our bodies require more because of the work they perform, but our foods simply aren’t what they used to be.
Because of soil depletion, crops grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins
and minerals than the varieties most of us get today.
– Scientific American
Even if you buy organic, the studies are continuing to show that they’re just as depleted in nutrients. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get what you need from food alone.Why do athletes need vitamins and supplements?
- Vitamins help turn food in to energy
- Low levels can mean fatigue and slowed recovery
- It doesn’t undo a bad diet, but supports good choices
- Provides some “insurance” that you’re meeting your needs
- Take with meals to improve absorption
- Those of us with food allergies are often low in certain vitamins from removing food categories
- BONUS: Being low in specific nutrients can cause sugar or carb cravings
Great, now we see the benefits to adding some vitamins to all the great whole foods we’re eating.
What vitamins do runners need?
Here’s a quick chart to breakdown down each vitamin and how it benefits you as a runner!
There are a few vitamins missing from the list above because they aren’t appropriate for everyone, but are incredibly important if you find yourself low! Getting annual blood work as part of a check up or specifically for sports performance is key to knowing what you need.
Though I am outside daily, I find myself consistently low on Vitamin D which can me fatigue and mood issues!Iron
Iron is actually a problem for many athletes, who often don’t even know it because all of our pounding does actually deplete iron.When your iron is low, you feel fatigued, workouts that were easy become demanding, and performance falters. This is one that you need to be very careful when taking though! Talk to someone first.
Choosing and Using the Right Vitamins
I’m not one who will quickly say yes to any vitamin. You’d be amazed at the number of companies who approach me every week with a new vitamin or supplement just for runners. Most of them do look great…but here’s where I start:
- What does my body actually need?
- What am I not able to get enough of through food?
- Am I in a heavy training period where my body needs more support?
- What fillers are in the vitamin? How was it created? If it has lots of fillers that often reduces absorption.
- How does my body react to this vitamin? Many of them give me a stomach ache, not thanks.
- If it’s not quality and I can’t absorb it, not worth it! I’m open to paying more to get benefits.
In other words, stop taking a generic that isn’t formulated for your needs!
One of the reasons I turned to krill oil over fish oil was how it made me feel. Fish oil is such a great tool, but it always left me feeling sick…not so with krill oil.
Meanwhile a daily oregano pill when I’m traveling boosts my immune system more than I ever found a multivitamin to do.
I do stay on top of my Vitamin D and add in B Complex when my energy starts to really dip. I also try to drink some magnesium once or twice a week. We don’t all need the same things, which is why I mentioned blood work. But more than that it really comes down to paying attention to how you feel!!
I won’t keep taking things if I don’t see a benefit after 3 weeks. And I won’t take things just because they’ve become popular.
Important Vitamin Timing Information
Vitamins are often fat or water soluble. I didn’t pay much attention to this until I realized that the curcumin I so adored for fighting inflammation was only semi-working because I was taking it on a empty stomach and it actually needed fat to really get in to my body!
Healthspan did a ton of great research to create many of the graphics provided throughout this post that include important details on timing!
Now that you know all about your sad veggies and what vitamins do, it’s time to make a choice. How are you going to support your mind and body to keep pushing forward?
Do you pay attention to what’s in your vitamins?
What keeps you mentally strong?
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