Being a runner means we know how important diet is for our performance. But often this is limited to ‘carbo loading’ for big events and doesn’t expand to the intricate details of our diet. Running not only uses up extra calories but often depletes specific nutrients and chemicals that our bodies need to smash those PB’s.
Runners can quite often be suffering from nutritional deficiencies which if left untreated can lead to poor performance, injuries and serious health issues. But we can avoid this by knowing the warning signs and making sure you are topping up the essential vitamins for running.
Signs of Deficiency
Jo Scott-Dalgleish an expert nutritionist who specialises in endurance sports explains the warning signs. “Most common sign is a reduction in energy and increased perception of effort in training. Being more susceptible to infections and taking longer to recover between workouts are also signs.”
By eating a well-balanced diet that focus, not just on calories, but the whole nutritional intake and by taking supplements where needed. Runners can help keep the bodies healthy. Below we will go through 5 of the key Vitamins runners need in detail.
Iron is used to help red blood cells transport oxygen around the body and also plays a key role in energy production. Making it pretty much essential for those long runs. Female athletes are most likely to be deficient due to the menstrual cycle. However, continuous footstrike and sweating has been shown to reduce Iron reserves in the body.
Foods that are high in Iron include; red meat, liver, seafood, spinach, beans, nuts, and tofu. So, make sure to include some of these in your post run meal or have a snack of some nuts before you set off.
Vitamin D is essential for the uptake of calcium from the diet and controls bone growth and development. Vitamin D is therefore crucial for strong and healthy bones which are vital for muscle development within runners. Vitamin D is unusual in that our skin can produce its own when exposed to sunlight. However, this can result in deficiencies as most of us will not be getting enough vitamin D during the winter months.
Vitamin D can be found in oily fish, eggs and fortified cereals. But it is worth noting that diet alone rarely provides enough of this Vitamin and The NHS recommend taking a supplement. Vit Stix are a great way to do this with 50% of your daily vitamin D in them and 5 other vitamins that are essential for runners.
Vitamin B6 + B12
B6 helps to make haemoglobin which is an essential component of red blood cells. B12 helps to keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and prevents a type of anaemia which causes tiredness and weakness. B6 also break down proteins into amino acids which are required by nearly every cell in our body, particularly by muscle cells when exercising.
Foods that contain Vitamins B12 and B6 are meat, poultry, salmon, cod, milk, cheese, eggs and chickpeas. For that reason, they are particularly hard to get if on a vegetarian or vegan diet. The easiest way is to take a daily supplement. Vit Stix provide 25% of both B6 and B12 in each drink making them the perfect post run beverage.
Zinc is key for immune function within the body helping fight off that annoying cold. Importantly for runners it also helps your body process carbohydrate, fat and protein in food breaking it down into useable sugars, amino acids and lipids. Plus, zinc helps maintain healthy looking skin and hair. Without Zinc you might not look as great after that run as you feel.
Zinc can be hard to find in ample amounts from foods alone meaning a supplement is the easiest way to source it. Foods that contain zinc include; meat, shellfish, dairy products, bread and cereal products. But we think Vit Stix are the best way to get your daily Zinc in a delicious Tropical or Red berry flavoured drink.
Vitamin C is necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues particularly the maintenance of cartilage and bones which can be damaged from long distance running. Vitamin C also protects us form damaging chemicals called free radicals which can be absorbed when running in urbanised areas. It is also vital for the absorption of Iron from vegetables and beans.
Vegetarians and vegans in particular should consider a Vitamin C supplement in order to boost both your vitamin C and Iron levels. Vit Stix are perfect for Vitamin C, unlike other effervescent tablets they contain the ideal amount for the body to digest. Alongside your daily Vit Stix citric fruits such as lemon, limes and oranges are high in vitamin C and peppers also contain a proportionally high amount. Try to add a squeeze of lemon and a scattering of chopped peppers to your spinach. This will boost both Vitamin C and Iron levels.
There you have it, although most of us are very good at regulating what we eat when we go for our runs. Often we forget the importance of the small things. This doesn’t mean that carbohydrates and proteins are not important! You still need to keep your calorie intake up if your running lots. But you could ruin all that hard work if you ignore these key vitamins. Grab a few Vit Stix today and add them to your post run routine. Vit Stix contain Vitamin D, B6, B12, C and Zinc so are the perfect post run drink. Plus, they make rehydration so much tastier and easier.
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