What are the best vitamins for runners?

Runners can always use any advantage that they can get, particularly if they compete regularly in road races or marathons. Long-distance running takes a tremendous amount of stamina, and even though sprinters and others that run shorter distances may not need stamina quite as much, they need sufficient energy stores for those shorter but more intense bursts of speed they need to be competitive. Serious runners will stick to a diet that provides the kind of nutrition that they need, and many will take vitamins and supplements to make up for the shortcomings in so much of the food we eat these days. The following vitamins and supplements will be most beneficial for those who take their running seriously.

1. B Vitamins

Although the B family of vitamins are beneficial for everyone, runners can benefit from it because they help produce energy by aiding the process that the body uses to convert carbohydrates into glucose, the sugar in the bloodstream that nourishes all the body’s cells. This helps runners maximise their energy levels. B vitamins also promote the breakdown of proteins that helps keeps muscles working at top efficiency. You can often buy all B vitamins in the form of Vitamin B Complex.

2. Conjugated Linoleic Acid

You won’t hear too much about this supplement for the average consumer, but Conjugated Linoleic Acid or CLA is a type of Omega-6 fatty acid that most people get through consumption of meat and dairy products. Runners may choose a supplement to take advantage of CLA’s fat-burning and muscle building properties. For runners who adhere to a vegan diet, buying and taking this supplement is particularly important since they are probably not getting it from eating meat or dairy products.

3. Vitamin E

Since runners can use up to 200 times the normal amount of oxygen in their muscles than non-runners, this creates a sort of waste product in the body that tends to bind to healthy cells and cause damage. Vitamin E’s antioxidant properties can help fight off the effects of these harmful waste products and lessen the damage they are able to inflict on healthy cells.

4. Coenzyme Q10

Commonly referred to as CoQ10, this supplement is somewhat of an up-and-coming product in recent years and is often advertised for older people to promote overall health, and especially heart health. CoQ10 can benefit runners due to its ability to maximize efficient use of oxygen in the body. Making sure that the body’s muscles are nourished with the oxygen they require can improve performance and endurance on the road or track.

5. Calcium

While most people are quick to think of bone health when calcium is mentioned, it is also required to keep muscles performing at their best. Bone health is certainly essential for runners due to the high levels of stress they subject their bodies to while training and competing. Calcium, through food or supplements also help to facilitate nerve function and helps to keep the body’s internal lines of communication open between the brain and various muscle groups.

6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 supplements often contain fish oil, although other forms are also available such as krill oil. Omega-3 benefits the body by helping to reduce inflammation that could result from the punishment runners inflict on joints and muscles. It may also benefit brain function and help keep runners alert and clear-headed when their bodies are enduring the stress that running subjects them to. Fish Oil supplements have various amounts of Omega-3, however, it’s not recommended you take them if you’re on blood-thinning medication, or have heart issues.

7. L-carnitine

This is naturally produced by the body by both the kidneys and the liver when two amino acids called lysine and methionine are synthesised. It is then able to flow freely throughout the body where it provides energy to cells. Taking an L-carnitine supplement may boost physical performance and also may help with weight loss. There is also some evidence that it can help prevent the hardening of the arteries and promote heart health.

8. Creatine

Runners who are also meat eaters can benefit from creatine since it is a byproduct of protein metabolism in the body. Like L-carnitine, it is made available to all areas of the body so it can provide energy for cells and enhance the performance of muscles. Creatine supplements are available which will be beneficial for runners who do not eat meat, and for those who simply wish to increase their levels of this organic acid.

9. Vitamin C

When it comes to lists of vitamins that are good for one activity or another, vitamin C will almost always be included because it is so important for so many of the body’s vital functions. In addition to all the usual benefits most people enjoy by taking vitamin C, runners will get a boost through its ability to improve the body’s utilisation of nonheme iron, which enhances oxygen absorption that is vital for runners.

10. Vitamin D

Since runners do create a lot of extra stress for their skeletal system, calcium absorption, as discussed earlier, is extremely important. Without adequate levels of vitamin D in the body, the ability to utilise calcium to help keep bones healthy is greatly reduced. Vitamin D-3 is considered superior in aiding the body’s ability to use calcium and is what runners should look for when selecting a vitamin D supplement.

Related: The best apps to use if you’re a runner

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