It is beyond any doubt that running provides numerous benefits to the body ranging from weight loss to better cardiovascular health. Whether it is just to get into shape or for competition, runners are supposed to have a healthy body with sufficient levels of the right nutrients so they can dash on without any worries. But if it is the opposite then injuries and other health problems may be of greater risk.
There are a handful of supplements for runners that can strengthen the body in many ways aside from what’s needed in the activity. Whether you are a professional runner or just someone who loves to jog on a sunny day, these supplements will be of great help to you:
Best Supplements for Runners
Runners are at risk of iron deficiency as the body’s levels of the mineral take a hit during excessive sweating and extreme training, and female athletes are more susceptible due to menstruation. Insufficient amounts of iron impede the production of hemoglobin and this eventually leads to anemia in which physical and mental fatigues are its most common symptoms. No athlete would want to be struck with the sudden feeling of weakness right in the thick of a grueling marathon. Some runners also follow diet plans that may not have enough of the mineral. Organ meats, oysters, beans, chickpeas, and lentils are some of the best sources of iron, but make sure to have your ferritin levels checked first before stocking up on the mineral. Having too much iron in the body can trigger a slew of undesirable symptoms.
If you love running and a morning cup of joe then boy do I have some good news for you. Caffeine has a lot of benefits for athletes and even Olympic-caliber runners utilize it as a performance enhancer (not to mention being legal). Here are some of the ways how caffeine works for runners like you:
- Boosts mental acuity which leads to better perception, reaction time, and increases brain endorphins which are also responsible for giving you that much-loved “runner’s high”.
- Helps with post-run recovery especially when taken alongside carbohydrates.
- Enhances the utilization of fat as an energy source instead of glycogen thus giving you more energy to spend especially during the critical last leg of the race.
- Improves neuromuscular coordination which makes your legs sprint harder and faster.
Moderation is key when it comes to caffeine in order to avoid problems like having the jitters or migraine. Never try caffeine before a race if it is your first time, instead experiment first during your training sessions to determine if it works for you.
Omega-3 fatty acids are renowned for their benefits concerning cardiovascular health and inflammation. Intake of omega-3’s can help with the reduction of soreness and improve flexibility of joints while also enhancing the burning of fat in muscles. Fatty fish meat and oils like mackerel, herring, and salmon are ideal sources of omega-3 followed by seeds like chia and flax. Krill oil is another source of omega-3 and has been found to provide better index of the fatty acids compared to fish oil. Supplements make it a lot easier to provide the body with the right amount of omega-3’s especially if you don’t fancy eating the food sources multiple times a week.
You might have stumbled upon huge black jars in health stores bearing the name “creatine” and sometimes next to a picture of six-pack abs. The reason behind that image of a chiseled body is that creatine helps immensely with boosting muscle size and strength. Runners also benefit from creatine as it bolsters sprint performance as proven by a study published in April 2001 at the journal Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. It gets the job done by enhancing the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) through increased levels of creatine phosphate. ATP contains energy that gives you that needed boost in times of intense training sessions. Keep in mind that creatine only works in the body for up to two hours so best take it before training. It should also be taken in the same specific time daily.
Coenzyme Q10 is a molecule naturally produced by the body and it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. CoQ10 also provides energy to the entire body as it plays an important part in the production of ATP just like creatine phosphate, and the molecule also aids in speedier post-training recovery. Runners can benefit from CoQ10 as it can fulfill energy demands brought by long training sessions while its antioxidant properties protect the body from harmful free radicals and minimize muscle damage due to oxidative stress. Taking 200 milligrams before running is the recommended dosage for optimum results.
Five key electrolytes
The five key electrolytes namely calcium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, and potassium are diminished in our bodies when we sweat. Deficiencies in the levels of these said electrolytes bring about symptoms that can negatively affect athletic performance. Here are the details regarding these five:
Maintaining the durability of your bones is indeed important if you wish to keep sprinting especially as the years go by. Poor bone density can lead to osteoporosis which can spell doom to your running career. Long-term effects aside, calcium ensures that your legs are protected from dreaded stress fractures that can put athletes out of the track for months. Dairy products are rich in calcium, and if drinking smoothies are your thing then you can toss in calcium-rich fruits and vegetables in the blender for a tasty bone-enhancing concoction. Be wary of taking too much calcium supplements as overdosing on the mineral leads to hypercalcemia which has symptoms like weakness and nausea. Also calcium should be taken with vitamin K2 (MK-7) for better absorption and to prevent it from being absorbed by the arteries and organs.
Sodium and Chloride
Sodium Chloride is the primary composition of salt. As having too much of it is harmful to the body, a deficiency in sodium can be the same as well as it induces muscle weakness, confusion, and vomiting. Maintain the right levels of sodium by eating its natural sources (spinach, fish, and fermented food to name a few) but this does not mean that you should gorge on sodium-packed processed food. Chloride can be derived through the consumption of potassium and sodium as it binds itself to those two.
This mineral is required on more than a hundred enzymatic reactions in the body and also benefits athletes through energy production, muscle contraction, and nerve impulse transmission. Urine and sweat excrete magnesium and longer training sessions drain more levels of the mineral. Insufficient magnesium levels are evident through muscle cramps, weakness, and arrhythmia. Bananas, dried fruit, dark leafy greens, beans, and whole grains are rich sources of magnesium.
Potassium helps prevent muscle cramps, regulates proper heart function, and derives glycogen from glucose. Hypokalemia occurs when you don’t have enough potassium in your blood and its symptoms are similar to the ones on the other four electrolytes. Eat more raisins, baked potatoes, bananas, lima beans, and plain yogurt to supply your body with potassium.
Vitamin D is well-known as the “sunshine vitamin” due to sunlight being among its sources. Runners who sprint while the sun is up may be getting a constant supply of the vitamin, however excessive sweating can steadily deplete the body’s nutrients. This may be confusing to sprinters who are always exposed to sunlight yet are found to be deficient in the vitamin. When there are insufficient levels of the vitamin, athletes will be tired most of the time and may have difficulty running through distances that used to be easy. Fatty fish, organ meats, egg yolks, and cheese are good sources of vitamin D, while 5,000 IU is the recommended supplemental intake for adults. It should also be taken along with vitamin K2 (MK-7) to prevent the risk of developing arterial plaque. Aging makes it harder for the skin to absorb the vitamin hence the dosage may increase as you get older. Make it a habit to have your vitamin D levels checked in order to determine if you are deficient.
Vitamin D also helps the body absorb more calcium, so make sure that you include this vitamin in your bone-boosting regimen.
The supplements mentioned above are based only on research and should not be taken without consulting the advice of a medical professional first. Always seek their opinion first regarding what you read online in order to determine what’s right for your situation, the proper dosage, and to avoid possible complications that may arise.
Have you tried any of these supplements? Do you have a supplement for running that works yet was not listed? Let us know in the comments.