Running is a demanding sport, both physically and mentally. It can wear down your body over time if you are not getting the proper minerals and nutrients to repair the damage done while training.
Following are 7 supplements that I chose specifically to help runners and other endurance athletes perform their best and keep their bodies in top form.
1) Fish Oil
Fish Oil contains a large portion of Omega 3 oils, which help to balance out Omega 6. Omega-3s are known as “essential” oils as our bodies do not produce this oil on it’s own. The only way to obtain it is through our diet.
Fish are an incredible source of Omega-3s, but because many of us don’t consume seafood on a regular basis, we are usually left with the improper ratio of Omega-3s to Omega-6 oils.
Omega-3s are needed for healthy cell walls, nervous system function, immune function and cardiovascular health to name a few of the benefits. They have even been shown to help in weight management.
This essential oil also has anti-inflammatory properties, making it perfect to help with sore knees and muscles after working out. It also helps to increase joint mobility and could slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
Omega 3 deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies facing Americans today. If you are a vegetarian, flax seed is another great source of this essential oil.
L-Glutamine is one of the non-essential amino acids in the body. This means our body is capable of producing it, but compromised immune systems and toxins can reduce its rate of production. It is one of the most abundant amino acids in our bodies, and can be found in the cells that line the gut, providing fuel for immune cells, maintaining nitrogen balance and as the building block for multiple other proteins.
Our body uses L-Glutamine to increase water retention in cell walls, signal cell growth, and increase production of protein and other essential nutrients. L-Glutamine is commonly considered to be a vital component in muscle growth. Supplementing with L-Glutamine can help lower recovery times and increase your muscle growth.
Long periods of exercise can also lower your immune system, prolonged and intense exercise (such as a long distance running) has been shown to decrease glutamine levels for 4.5 hours after exercising. This is likely because the liver using glutamine to make glucose, as well as proteins needed by the body.
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Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in our diet and it plays a role in a huge number of cellular reactions. Magnesium activates over 300 enzyme reactions within our body, and is essential in nerve transmission, muscle contraction, energy production and bone and cell formation. So, yeah, it’s pretty important!
It’s also crucial for those running endurance races, like marathons or half marathons. During these races you can lose large amounts of magnesium from your body, so it’s important to supplement, especially on race or training days.
Magnesium deficiencies have become more common in recent times, with poor soil nutrients and overuse of antibiotics and other substances that can wreak havoc on the beneficial bacterial colonies in our gut being some of the main culprits.
Muscle spasms and aches are a common sign of magnesium deficiency.
4) Whey Protein
Really any protein source will do, you can go for hemp or plant based proteins if you are lactose intolerant.
Whey protein does have many advantages though, it is easily absorbed in the body, much more so than other proteins.
Protein powders are great as they are easy to consume and take minimal preparation. This saves you time and energy and ensures you are getting proper portions every time.
Protein is essential for muscle growth and muscle building, and you’ll be doing a lot of that when you are running. Large amounts of cardio can also lead to some muscle reduction, so whey protein will help to maintain the muscles you already have as well as form new, stronger muscles.
Iron is crucial to the formation of red blood cells, which are the carriers of oxygen throughout your body.
There is some evidence that anemia is more common among endurance athletes such as runners. This could come from excessive Iron lost through sweat while exercising.
We normally get enough iron from our diets, as it is present in many proteins such as chicken, tuna or beef. If you are working out a lot and losing a lot of sweat, an iron supplement could be important for you.
It is possible to take too much Iron though, so it is recommended to only take an Iron supplement under the supervision of a doctor. If you stick to the manufacturers recommended dose, you should be fine though.
6) Vitamin D
Recently, there has been a huge uptick in the number of Vitamin D deficiency cases. This is alarming because inadequate Vitamin D levels can lead to a myriad of problems, including reduced athletic performance as well as increasing the risk for some cancers.
Obviously, the main source of Vitamin D is sunlight. If you are able to be outside for 30 minutes to an hour while the sun is out, that should be enough to balance your vitamin d levels out for the day.
But due to an increase in people working inside and the use of sunscreens that block vitamin D synthesis, we need to be extra careful we are getting enough sun throughout the day.
BCAA’s, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, are commonly taken by athletes of every sport. They contain 3 essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on it’s own and must get through diet. These are leucine, isoleucine and valine. These three amino acids have a branched side chain of carbon molecules, this simplifies the energy conversion during intense exercise.
Muscle tissue in the body is around 35% BCAAs, and the more BCAA’s in the muscle the more they will be used for energy; this slows down the breakdown of muscle proteins and helps stop muscle loss. BCAA’s also help speed up recovery after exercise.
To Wrap It All Up
So there you have it, some of the best supplements for runners. Of course, these supplements are great for people who don’t run as well. Athletes of any sport should also be taking these supplements as well, as they are essential for so many processes throughout the body.
Sometimes, getting all these nutrients through your diet can be difficult and time-consuming. To get the best results, you need to plan out exactly what you are buying at the grocery store and prep all of your meals in advance.
If you would like to save time and effort, you can do what I do and drink Athletic Greens every morning. This green drink is actually really tasty and helps fill in the gaps in your diet. It’s like dietary insurance for the day, just in case you miss out on some important nutrients. Check it out today and see what it can do for you!
Hey! My name is Stephen and I’m the owner of Ultimate Core Health. Since we started, we’ve grown into a trusted resource for unbiased, science-based articles and reviews on fitness, nutrition and supplements. Check me out on social media, feel free to add me if you want to talk health!