When you are an active runner and hitting the pavement is a part of your daily routine, having the best equipment and owning a pair of comfortable and cool running shoes is probably one of your short-term goals. However, there are some other things that require your attention, such as your nutrition status. In order to perform its best your body needs various minerals and vitamins, or otherwise, you won’t be able to get more out of every mile. It’s best to get vitamins and minerals from whole foods rather than supplements because the body is able to absorb more nutrients when they come from a food source. In case you do opt for supplements, make sure you choose high-quality ones and talk to your health provider before taking them. If, on the other hand, you are a fan of the food-first approach, here is a list of vitamins and minerals every runner needs and easy ways to include them into your diet.
Since you were little you have probably heard millions of times that you should drink milk if you want to have strong and healthy bones. This isn’t just a tale for children, dairy products are actually rich in calcium which reduces the risk of low bone mineral density and prevents fractures. Calcium also plays a significant role in muscle contraction and blood clotting. If you are lactose intolerant or you just aren’t a huge fan of milk, yogurt, and other dairy products, you can get calcium from canned salmon, leafy green vegetables and fortified orange juice.
As you might know, spending time in the sun is the most natural way to get vitamin D, but unfortunately, too much sunlight can affect your health and lead to various problems. If you have sensitive skin or you live in a place with limited sunshine, you can look for vitamin D in some types of food. This vitamin which is important for bone health is usually found in dairy, as well as products that have been fortified with vitamin D, like bread, orange juice, and margarine.
Vitamins such as Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, B-6, Biotin, Folate, and B-12 are important for runners because they help produce energy during exercise, synthesizing protein and repair strained tissues. If you are looking for a good source of B vitamins, whole grains are your go-to food. You can also find these vitamins in meat, dairy and green veggies.
Do you tire easily and have a hard time finishing your run? If so, it is quite possible that your iron levels are low. When this happens, our muscle function becomes impaired and we are no longer able to give our 100% on the track. Beef, pork, and poultry are great sources of iron, but if you don’t eat meat try including more black beans, kidney beans, and fortified grains into your diet.
Our body needs zinc to activate T cells which are in charge of controlling and regulating immune responses and attacking infected or cancerous cells. Zinc also has a role in wound healing and helps lower the risk of osteoporosis. You can find it in red meat, dark-meat poultry, raw oysters and whole grains.
We have mentioned calcium and we have mentioned vitamin D. Well, magnesium is important for regulating a balance of these two nutrients in the body and is also significant for maintaining bone strength and keeping blood sugar under control. If you are worried that your magnesium levels are low, try eating more of leafy green veggies, whole grains, seeds and nuts, and steer clear of refined and processed foods.
If you wish to upgrade your running skills, keep in mind that fueling your body properly should be on your list of priorities. Make sure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need and consult your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet.