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Are Supplements A Good Supplement?

Are Supplements A Good Supplement?

Runners are notorious for getting caught up in the runner’s high but don't forget your nutrition

The very reason we love running may be the reason that we end up not taking care of ourselves the way that we should. Whether you are training for a marathon, a 5k, or any event, it is important that you maintain good health. If you don’t pay attention to how you are feeling and what your body needs, you aren’t going to meet your goals. If you don't have the proper nutrients on board, you are likely setting the scenario for illness or injury, both of which will take you out of the running, literally. There has always been a debate about whether supplementing with vitamins and minerals are an effective way to keep your body strong and to give it the nutrition that it needs. For distance runners, that becomes even more crucial. When burning so many reserves continually, you may be leaving your body and your immune system vulnerable. If you don’t supply your body what it needs, it won’t be able to protect and repair itself the way that it needs to. Your body is just like any other machine; it needs specific things to function efficiently. Without those ingredients, something is likely to suffer. The question then becomes if you can’t get enough of what you need daily through the foods you eat, is it reasonable to believe that you can supplement your way to good health? Frustratingly, the answer is yes and no. The science is mixed when it comes to supplementing. There is no question about whether getting the nutrients you need from food is healthier than ingesting synthetic forms, but there are only so many calories you can consume per day. Endurance runners burn so much of what they need, that to keep pace with what they burn, it may be necessary to take supplements to bridge the gap.

What can supplements do for your health as a runner?

When you run a lot and sweat even more, you lose vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D, Potassium, Calcium and Vitamin Bs. Due to the enormous amount of stress that you put on your body, the Vitamin Bs are essential to maintaining good health. Although not an excellent way to get nutrition, supplements can work by picking up the gap between what you can consume and the excess that you have to supplement for.

Calcium and Vitamin D are essential for bone density and health.

Studies have shown that due to the use of sunscreens and the threat of skin cancer, the number of adults who are suffering from a lack of Vitamin D continues to increase. Because bones are integral to your running and strength, it is recommended that you supplement with both. Research shows that supplementing with Vitamin D and Calcium helps maintain healthy bones not just for the time being, but for your future quality of life. Other supplements that have been shown to have significant health benefits when taken synthetically are Vitamin B12, iron, and folic acid. All are essential for the immune system and cardiac function. Protein is also critical for muscle recovery, for endurance runners and sprinters, it is even more crucial. Drinking protein shakes is a reasonable way to ensure that you are getting enough to make up for any deficit that may result from your running goals. Potassium may also be needed to help decrease the build-up of lactic acid in your muscles, which will contribute to reducing soreness and stiffness. It is also critical to stabilizing the electrolyte balance in the body.

On the fence

There are some studies to indicate that endurance runners can benefit from a supplement called creatine. Creatine helps with muscle building and repair. Because it is not water soluble, however, it is imperative that you monitor how much you are taking to ensure that you aren't overdosing yourself. In large amounts, creatine can affect your kidneys and cause damage to the function of them. Finally, if you are running during excessive heat or long distances, your body needs electrolytes to replenish what you sweat. If you don’t have the right electrolyte balance, it can quickly lead to heart complications and dehydration. Staying well hydrated is always a concern during any racing event of long distance run.

Fill the gaps

No argument eating a well-balanced diet that includes all the vitamins and minerals that you need to stay healthy and strong is essential for your running goals, but if you can’t get enough with what you eat, then it may be necessary for you to supplement your nutrition with supplements. Supplementation may not be the best way to get the nutrition that your body needs to keep pace, but it is a reasonable way to fill in the gaps.