In a previous blog, I talked briefly about what I tell my athletes when they ask me if they should take a daily multi-vitamin. And the answer is…. ideally, no. However, the ideally portion of that answer is key. I pay attention to my daily intake of food pretty closely when in heavy training period (I indulge when I need to, just like you should!), and the only vitamin or mineral I’ve ever been deficient in is, vitamin D. And I do not consume a daily-multi-vitamin. I do however, consume a low calorie beverage that has a blend of several vitamins and minerals on a daily basis (nuun all day), which does aid in my overall intake.
In the perfect world, we’d get all of our daily requirements of vitamins and minerals through food sources. However, its not that simple, and life does get in the way. Am I recommending you all consume a multi-vitamin? No. But you should get blood work done on a regular basis (as directed by your physician) to make sure you’re not deficient in any key nutrient that can aid in your exercise performance.
There are a handful of vitamin and minerals that runner’s need to pay attention too. These nutrients should be consumed at higher quantities on a regular basis, as it will aid in energy production, recovery, and overall health.
- Vitamin D – quite possibly the most important vitamin (in my opinion) to the athlete, vitamin D plays key roles in maintain muscle and bone health. A great source of vitamin D is sunlight; however, during the winter months’ sunlight in some parts of the world can be limited. Also, when trying to absorb vitamin D from sunlight, the amount of sunscreen and layers you’re wearing has a major impact. Most runner’s and athletes will find themselves deficient in vitamin D. That’s why I recommended taking in supplemental vitamin D, in the range of 1000-2000IU per day (during fall/winter months). You can decrease the dose during the summer, as in most areas sunshine is not an issue. The Institute of Medicine (IOC) recommended a daily intake of 400IU’s for vitamin D, with an upper intake of 4,000 IU. Therefore, reaching a level in which you’d have toxic amounts of vitamin D free-flowing within the bloodstream is rare.
- Iron – for women, iron intake during training is vital. It can often dictate how the athlete is recovering, and what they energy levels throughout the day is like. Women should closely pay attention to iron levels during blood panels to ensure their intake meets the needs required by the body. Consult your physician to get a recommendation on how much supplemental iron you should be consuming. Also look to consume leafy greens, and lean red meat as they often are rich iron.
- B Vitamins – vegetarian/vegan runners can often become deficient in various B Vitamins, as dairy products, eggs, and meat usually contain a nice blend of B vitamins. B vitamins play key roles in energy metabolism. Not only can they help provide energy, they also work with stored carbohydrates and fats and turn them into fuel. Therefore, consuming some supplement rich in B vitamin can certainly help runners with special diets, get the nutrients they normally can’t find in foods.
- Vitamin C – there has been quite a bit of research out lately that indicated consuming high amounts of vitamin C (over 1,000 mg per day) can actually decrease exercise performance. Vitamin C has been taken by athletes for years, helping keep our immune system healthy and strong. Consuming over 1000% of your Daily Value of any vitamin or mineral should be taken with caution. Therefore, high amounts of certain vitamins that contribute to the roles antioxidant plays in our body can disrupt some essential processes. Vitamin C should be consumed on a regular basis through fruits and vegetables, and in some cases through supplements. However, don’t over do it, everything should be taken in moderation.