‘What supplements do you take?’
This question was asked of me at the doctors last week, and I was a little taken aback. Shouldn’t we be told that we should be getting all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals from our food? Apparently yes that is ideal, but not always possible in this day and age (and weather).
So if you are going to supplement, what should we be taking on a regular basis?
Unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, California or Florida, you’re probably not getting enough Vitamin D. In fact, because we should be wearing suntan lotion every day to protect from the harmful rays, (make sure your moisturiser, BB/CC cream has at least SPF 15 in) we won’t be getting enough Vit D. Even if you’re out for your 2-3 hour long run, plus multiple other runs per week, we’re so wrapped up against the elements that our skin exposure is minimal. As runners our bones take a fair pounding so adding in a Vitamin D supplement can help regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphate, as well as helping to protect your bones from osteoporosis.
An American study also discovered that low levels of Vitamin D correlated with incidences of cold and influenza – when you’ve got a heavy training schedule, like a marathon to train for – the last thing you want is to be sidelined with illness. Taking Vitamin D can help improve your immunity, vital at this time of year when everyone is coughing and sneezing all around you on the tube (even better- avoid it completely by run commuting!)
I’ve been taking Alive! Immune Support vitamins that contain 100% of your RDA of Vitamin D, as well as Vitamin C, A, B6 and Zinc all in one. Plus they are chewy little fruity sweets taste great and are suitable for vegetarians.
Want to learn more about Vitamin D and endurance running? This is a great article from competitor.com.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
You’re probably getting plenty of Omega 6 in your diet already, but Omega 3, particularly in vegetarians and vegans (and those that aren’t a fan of fish) can be severely lacking. Runners can benefit particularly from the EPA and DHA (the fatty acids) as they can help reduce muscle soreness, increase lean muscle mass and improve exercise-induced asthma. Aim to eat 2-3 portions of fatty fish a week, or take a supplement that contains at least 500mg of DHA and EPA. Micro algae is a great source for vegetarians!
I’ve been taking magnesium for a while as I’ve read a few articles about the benefits of magnesium in migraine sufferers (although they are yet to be the miracle cure!). As magnesium assists with muscle contraction and energy metabolism, it would make sense that it’s crucial for runners and other endurance athletes. Studies have shown that endurance levels decrease in those that are magnesium deficient, as does aerobic capacity. There is a lot of conflicting evidence out there about whether you can infect achieve your daily magnesium goal through just your food or whether supplementing is necessary/beneficial. Although taking more than the RDA (400mg) of magnesium might not improve your performance, it’s important that you are at least reaching your daily levels. Eat more leafy greens (yes to more kale) plus nuts, bananas, fish, dried fruit, dark chocolate (YAY) – probably things you’re already eating. More excuse to hit that bar of Green & Blacks hard tonight, or think about adding in a magnesium supplement.
Disclaimer – I am not a doctor, or yet qualified as a Dietitian, this post includes intro from a lot of background research and reading, as well as a conversation with my Doctor.
This post is sponsored by Alive! Vitamins. ‘Alive! Soft Jells are a brand new range of Multi-Vitamins and Minerals from Nature’s Way. The range comes in 5 variants for the whole family: Women’s Energy, Women’s 50+, Men’s Energy, Children’s and Immune Support’
I knew about Vitamin D, but didn’t know about the other two. Thanks for the great, informative post!
Interesting post. I take cod liver oil capsules and calcium,as there’s a history of osteoporosis on the women’s side in my family. I’ve often wondered about whether I should also be taking iron as I’ve often read about how runners are often iron deficient. Have you any recommendations about iron?
Great post! I take tons of Vitamin D because I live in Alaska where we get almost no sun in the winter, but I didn’t know about the other ones! I’ll definitely have to look into those.
I’ve always wondered about this! I take Vitamin D because living in Scotland… well… ha. I’ll have to look into the other two too. Thanks for this!
Great post! Even in Florida, a lot of us still don’t get enough vitamin D. I was taking a magnesium supplement, but haven’t lately. Really need to get back on it!