5 Essential Supplements for Runners

Running has amazing benefits but it can also be very tough on the body. Anna Weber, an elite runner and Olympic trials qualifier, tells us her top supplements for runners.

Why is Nutrition Important?

Every step that a runner takes, results in the foot absorbing a force that is roughly 2.5 times the body weight of the runner. This huge force is a major contributor to stress fractures and overuse injuries.

Supplements for Runners - Anna Weber - Linked Fitness CommunityRunning also causes changes within a runner’s body that will not be easily seen or felt:

  • Changes to the body’s metabolism,
  • Destruction of the lining of the intestinal walls,
  • Cellular damage to skeletal and myocardial tissue.

All of these negative effects on the body can lead to injury, fatigue, or decreased immunity. Fortunately, many of these issues are preventable by proper vigilance to diet or supplementation.

It is possible to get all of the nutritional components you need from your diet. However, it can sometimes be difficult depending on your lifestyle and food preferences.

For those of you who are having difficulty, here are my 5 essential supplements for runners to help you stay healthy and avoid injury.

Supplements for Runners

1) Iron

For many runners, iron is as common a part of training as is carb loading. Runners are especially prone to low ferritin levels, which can lead to anemia or anemia-like symptoms, including extreme fatigue, weight loss, disruption in sleeping patterns, and a “tingling” sensation in the lower legs during exercise.

Anemia appears to be more prevalent in athletes for a variety of reasons. A common reason is the “foot strike” anemia theory which suggests that red blood cell destruction can occur as a result of repetitive impact.

Male athletes should be cautious when adding iron to their diet, as the lack of a menstrual cycle can lead to iron overdose. Females are recommended to take up to 18 mg of iron per day, unless otherwise instructed by a doctor.

2) Vitamin D

Supplements for Runners - Anna Weber - Linked Fitness Community

Many runners scoff when they learn they may be deficient in the “sunshine vitamin”. After all, don’t we receive enough Vitamin D during our long runs? Surprisingly, the answer is often no.

Vitamin D deficiency has been found to increase the risk of bone injury. It is also a contributing factor to low energy levels and to slower recovery.

Recommendations for supplementation are 600 IU.

3) L-Glutamine

When most people think of supplements, they typically think of vitamins and minerals, not proteins. L-Glutamine is an amino acid that the body naturally produces.

Supplements for runners may include L-Glutamine (typically in 2 – 4 g quantities) as it is important for muscle repair, immune function, and digestion.

Runners often use L-Glutamine to aid the body’s natural production of this necessary protein. Key times to use it include:

  • During periods of heavy training,
  • When trying to avoid illness,
  • If suffering from “leaky gut” or other intestinal issues.

4) Probiotics

Supplements for Runners - Anna Weber - Linked Fitness CommunityProbiotics are essential for gut health.  During endurance exercise, the lining of the gut is destroyed leading to digestive issues, bloating, and food sensitivities.

Probiotics can help repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria, leading to better immune function and running performance.

Look for a probiotic that contains a variety of live bacteria strains, and remember to always refrigerate it.

5) Zinc

Often an often overlooked mineral, zinc plays a major role in a healthy immune system. It is necessary for keeping inflammation and illness at bay.

Athletes lose zinc through sweat and urine, and endurance athletes seem to be particularly prone to deficiencies.

Unless otherwise directed by a doctor, runners can supplement with 12 – 15 mg of zinc per day. This is the amount typically found in a multivitamin.

About the Author

Anna Weber - Linked Fitness Community Author

Anna Weber is an elite runner from Indianapolis, USA. In July 2015 she made the brave decision to put her PhD in Analytical Chemistry on hold so that she could follow her true passion – running.Since then she has worked harder than ever before and in October 2015 she qualified for the Olympic Trials at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in a time of 2:38:39.

Anna’s huge success is recognized by the running apparel company Oiselle, whose mission is to provide inspiration and support to women of all running levels. Oiselle have made Anna a member of their Haute Volée team which is their Elite Team.

To find out more about Anna Weber, you can visit her blog and her website

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