Whether you run for health reasons or not, as a regular runner, you should know that you need to take extra care of your body. While vitamin deficiencies are often linked to a poor diet, runners can be at greater risk because of the amount of energy they expend daily.
While it’s important to consider the foods you eat and how well you’re fuelling your bodies not just before, but after your run too, it’s also important to consider all of the other essential vitamins and minerals your body needs in order to function properly.
When you’re running, you’re not only expending extra energy, but you’re also using up essential vitamins and minerals too. This means some runners are at an increased risk of vitamin deficiency if they’re not replacing the deficit through their diet alone. And guess what? Most runners aren’t.
Your body is a marvellous machine in that it often gives you subtle warning signs to let you know when you’re running low on certain vitamins and minerals. Certain signs can be linked to certain vitamins so it’s a good idea to do your research and always consult your doctor beforehand. To illustrate, tiredness and shortness of breath can be a sign of low iron levels whereas a lack of energy, progress and regular fatigue can be a sign of low B12 levels.
The best place to start? Your diet. Not only should you be eating enough food, but you should be eating enough of the right foods too. Think real food. Food that nature intended for us. By eating a balanced diet high in vitamins and minerals, you’re ensuring that your body is receiving all of the nutritious foods it needs in order to live healthily and run healthily too.
Here are five of the most important vitamins runners need, but often neglect:
Vitamin B12 is incredibly important for keeping your entire nervous and immune system functioning properly. It also contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue – which is why it’s commonly linked to excessive bouts of tiredness when runners are concerned.
Not only that, but Vitamin B12 helps keep our blood cells healthy and your muscles strong. Those who are low on Vitamin B12 may often find they struggle with weak muscles.
Vegans are particularly at a higher risk of B12 deficiency, but regular runners can be too when they don’t consume enough foods high in B12.
Iron is super important for runners as it plays a key role in energy production and transporting oxygen around the body via red blood cells.
Females are more likely to suffer from iron deficiency due to their menstrual cycle, but both females and males who don’t consume enough red meat, beans, nuts and green leafy vegetables, may also run low too.
It’s also important to note that vitamin C (another crucial vitamin for our overall health) aids the absorption of iron in your body. So if you think you could be low on Vitamin C, check out Primal Living’s sugar-free Vitamin C Effervescent.
Magnesium contributes to the normal function of healthy bones and the nervous system. It also helps to regulate muscle function, including the heart, while reducing tiredness and fatigue. Signs of magnesium deficiency may include muscle spasms (including cramping), increased anxiety, poor sleep quality and irregular heart patterns. Many runners often associate muscle cramping with injury, over-training or the use of incorrect shoes, but actually, looking at your magnesium levels might be a great way to start.
Primal Living’s magnesium supplement has been formulated from high potency bisglycinate which means it’s in its most highly bioavailable form to maximise absorption. Find out more here.
Zinc, a.k.a, the wonder vitamin for our immune system. For runners in particular, zinc helps support the immune system along with the metabolism of macronutrients and vitamin A. Because zinc affects so many systems in the body, there is no single distinct symptom of zinc deficiency. According to the NHS some of the common symptoms of zinc deficiency include:
• decreased sense of smell and taste
• poor wound healing
• hair loss
• roughening of skin/rashes
• and many more
Because zinc is also the most prevalent trace mineral in the body, it’s essential for growth, recovery (including healing) and brain health. If you think you may have a zinc deficiency, Primal Living’s zinc formula is extremely potent due to its importance. Check it out here.
One of the most discussed vitamins right now, Vitamin D is the only vitamin that Public Health England suggest we need to rely on during the Autumn/Winter months.
Vitamin D is highly important as it contributes to bone health, which as we all know is crucial for runners. Stiff joints, dull aches in our bones (some people refer to it as ‘growing pains’ from being a child) and low mood are all common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D’s primary natural source is sunlight, however as we typically spend more time indoors than we do out, many of us are already borderline deficient. Therefore, it’s always best to supplement with a high-quality vitamin D supplement like Primal Living’s which you can find here. As always, food first. But when we know we’re not getting in quite enough vitamins from our food, high-quality supplements are a great insurance policy towards our health.
Primal Living, a health and wellness company, always recommend that you consult your local GP before taking any new or additional supplements.