Chances are, if you are a dedicated runner, you care about your health. However, even the most health-conscious athletes struggle at times to reach the daily recommended intakes of all of the vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal health. To help bridge the nutritional gap, many people, including athletes, take a daily multivitamin. A multivitamin is a key asset for runners looking to boost their overall health as well as improve performance and endurance and speed up recovery. Learn about the key vitamins and minerals in a multivitamin that improve a runner’s performance and recovery.
Vitamin C, a water soluble vitamin, is usually touted for its immune boosting, cold-busting powers but it is also a powerful recovery vitamin. Vitamin C reduces the lactic acid build up in muscles. Because lactic acid is what causes that sore feeling after an intense workout or run, vitamin C helps recovery by reducing muscle soreness. Vitamin C also helps to reduce inflammation.
Vitamin D deficiencies, which are more common in northern climates and especially during the winter, contribute to inflammation. Like Vitamin C, vitamin D also helps to reduce inflammation. If you live in a climate that is not sunny year round or if you run indoors more often than outdoors, vitamin D may be even more important for you to take each day.
Vitamin E, a antioxidant well known for its benefits for healthy skin and eyes, is also a runner’s friend. Vitamin E reduces muscle damage caused through intense exercise. This vitamin also reduces inflammation, which can help the post-run recovery process.
A good multivitamin should include a healthy dose of calcium, and every runner should ensure s/he consumes the daily recommenced amount of this mineral to prevent stress fractures. Runners are particularly at risk for stress fractures, and because a deficiency of calcium will cause the body to pull calcium from the bones to use it elsewhere in the body, running with low calcium can be hazardous to your bone health. Some runners even swear by a glass of milk as the post-run beverage of choice. In addition to taking your multivitamin, consider using milk as a base for a post-run whey protein shake.
Zinc is another great mineral for athletes and is often included in a multivitamin. Zinc helps runners in two ways:
- Increases testosterone levels: The journal Neuro Endocrinology Letters published a study that linked zinc with increased levels of testosterone after workouts. This hormone is helpful in building muscles.
- Promotes the strengthening of muscles: zinc aids the body in repairing and recovering muscle after strenuous workout.
In order to get the most out of your runners multivitamin, carefully follow the dosage guidelines on the package to avoid “overloading” on vitamins. If you have concerns taking any supplements, check with your physician.