Essential Vitamins & Minerals For Runners And Where To Get Them
Diet plays a big part in any fitness regime, if you want to get the most out of your workout. You can, of course, live on a diet of pizza, cheese on toast and beer but you’ll constantly feel sluggish and, ergo, your workout will, in turn, also be sluggish (if you can be bothered to get out the door in the first place, that is).
Eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables will ensure you ingest a wide variety of vitamins, with some being better for runners than others. Here are some of the vitamins that are great for runners, and how to get them.
(Please note that this blog is written by a vegetarian so I won’t be mentioning any meat or fish sources)
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for everyone – not just runners. In fitness terms though, it is vital for energy as it helps to break down fat and protein in the food you eat. A deficiency in B12 can lead to fatigue and a lack of concentration.
B12 is found in eggs and dairy (and a lot of products such as soya milk and vegan cheese is fortified with it) but vegans may need to take a supplement such as this one by Naturelo B Complex which gives you all the B vitamins you need.
I broke my foot earlier this year and couldn’t walk, let alone run, for about three months. I consulted Dr Google to find out what food was good for bones and then spent three months eating so much spinach my skin turned a hue of pale green (the pale green bit may not actually be true).
Obviously, runners need strong bones (they obviously need not to fall over when they’re drunk and break their feet too), which is where calcium comes in. As well as the aforementioned spinach; calcium is abundant in milk – including fortified plant-milk such as almond or soya – tofu and chia seeds.
If you asked anyone what health benefits bananas had, they’d probably say ‘potassium’, as that seems to be all anyone knows about bananas. They’re obviously good for fitness though, as evidenced by all the banana-munching monkeys swinging around the jungle. (This may of course just be a stereotype and an unfair generalisation about monkeys, as I’ve never actually seen a monkey eat a banana. Then again, I’ve never been to a jungle.)
Aside from swinging through trees, potassium is good for hydration and maintaining muscle function. As well as bananas, you can also find potassium in potatoes, yoghurt and dried fruit.
Zinc’s not really something people think about on a day-to-day basis. Although, here I go generalising again – for all I know, people in offices, parks and pubs up and down the country could be discussing the benefits of zinc all day every day.
Anyway, what is zinc good for and how do you get it? Zinc helps wounds to heal, breaks down carbs and helps your immune system to run properly. And the really good news is, it’s found in loads of tasty stuff like hummus, dark chocolate and garlic. Now I’m wondering what garlic hummus with dark chocolate would be like. My guess is ‘yum’.
Vitamin D, along with calcium, is vital for bone health, as vitamin D allows bones to absorb calcium. Although Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because our bodies can make and absorb Vitamin D from exposure to the sun, here in the UK, sun is usually in short supply so we need to find it elsewhere, either in food or in a supplement. Food sources include mushrooms, fortified plant milk and orange juice, eggs and dairy.
These are just a few of the vitamins and minerals that anyone into fitness needs. Although eating a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to get these vitamins on a daily basis, time constraints, availability and general can’t-be-bothered-to-cook-today-ness sometimes gets in the way and therefore a supplement might be a good idea. Naturelo have a wide range of vegetarian and vegan-friendly supplements made from organically grown fruit and veg.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make some garlic and chocolate flavoured hummus to get my zinc fix.