Most runners eat a well-balanced diet, but even healthy eaters can miss out on key nutrients. If your meal plan doesn’t contain a perfect balance of every performance-enhancing vitamin, it may help to assist your diet with a pill or two. However, it’s always important to note not to prioritise supplements over meals. They are not called ‘Replacements’ for a reason.
So now that it’s clear that eating whole foods is key, it’s wise to understand the limitations. Food supplies nutrients in combinations that pills can’t really replicate, but sometimes they fall short due to the way your body absorbs these nutrients or the general quality of the food. Sometimes regular food may unwittingly be nutrient-deficient. This is where certain supplements can ensure that athletes and runners don’t miss out on any goodness that could improve their performance.
When we say supplements, we don’t mean those whey and protein shakes that can be dubious at times. Instead go for supplements that can really assist your running ability.
Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil help reduce exercise-induced asthma, and go a long way towards alleviating muscle soreness after a run. Moreover, it’s also known to promote growth of lean body mass.
It is vital for producing hemoglobin, a compound that carries oxygen to muscles. Low iron causes energy to sag and affects performance. Premenopausal female runners are at risk since men rarely have a problem with iron. Women who feel tired and weak may need a supplement. But high doses of iron can affect organs so it is best to seek a doctors advice.
Calcium reduces stress-fracture risk by strengthening bones. It also plays a key role in muscle and nerve function. If you’re the sort of person who has 3 servings of dairy every day then you shouldn’t be at risk of calcium deficiency. But if you do, chances are that you might be falling short of your necessary intake. Always best to supplement your diet with a little calcium.
Vitamin B-12 is rare from plant sources, so vegetarians are most likely to suffer from its deficiency. Since Vitamin B12 helps in production of healthy red blood cells that deliver oxygen around the body, it’s a crucial nutrient for runners who need maximum oxygenation of muscles for high efficiency. Vitamin B-12 supplements are advised for vegetarians and vegans, as it’s a missing component in most common vegetarian foods.