As a runner, at some point you will likely consider adding vitamins and supplements to your training routine.
There are many opinions on this topic. Nearly every scientific and nutritional expert would agree that the primary source of vitamins and minerals should be a healthy diet - – one that is balanced and diversified..
Here is where a lot of analysis stops.
Life is hard and busy.
People live extremely busy lives balancing work, family, and stress while fitting in their daily miles. Normal life is not perfect and neither is normal life’s diet.
Most runners will find a benefit from adding a multivitamin on top of their existing diet as an additional source of nutrient diversification. Here's why:
91% adults DO NOT eat the recommended daily allowance of vegetables. 88% of adults DO NOT EAT the recommended amount of fruit. (Source: See the December 2017 Runner’s World for more information)
Even though we know we should, we do not eat enough fruits and vegetables every day. Life is hard and busy. Supplementing your diet – where you already doing your best – with a multivitamin helps add additional nutrient and mineral diversity.
You are probably eating the same thing everyday.
Do a quick mental audit of your diet. If you’re like most people, odds are your pre-run meal, breakfast, and lunch are remarkably consistent. Dinner is typically the meal with the most weekly variation. Diversifying your diet across a variety of vegetables, fruits, and meat is important – but the constraints of daily life sometimes make this hard. A multivitamin helps add diversity on those days and weeks where your normal diet is deficient.
Runners are not average – you run.
The FDA standards for the average percent daily value and calorie intake (e.g. 2,000 calories) are derived for the average adult. But runners, but definition, are not average. Runners exert additional energy (75-150 calories per mile) and sweat additional nutrients as compared to the average adult. To fuel this higher energy expenditure, runners not only need additional calories, but also different densities of key vitamins – such as vitamin B, which govern energy production. Supplementing with a multivitamin can help tailor your nutritional plan to your energy expenditure – not those of the average adult.
Once you decide to add a vitamin on top of a healthy diet, the next decision is what vitamin to add. Below are three general guidelines:
Whole Food Vitamins: Try to stick to vitamins made from whole foods to more closely mirror absorbing nutrients from a healthy diet.
Multivitamin vs. Vitamin: Prioritize a multivitamin over several individual vitamins. Keep it simple – life is busy enough.
- A, B, C – As a runner, look for a complete B vitamin (necessary for energy production), concentrated C vitamin (essential antioxidant for inflammation and health), and sufficient vitamin A (night-vision and eyesight).
In summary, eat healthy, add a multivitamin for diversification, and train consistently.
See you at the finish line,