Long distance running, is one of the most rigorous, high-impact forms of exercise a person can do. Metabolically speaking, it is one of the most demanding activities for the heart and vascular system. It is extremely hard on the musculoskeletal system, grinding and jarring bones and connective tissues- especially in the feet, knees, and lower back. All of these demands placed on the body require those who engage in regular long distance running to maintain a well-balanced diet with very high nutrient density. Unfortunately, even this may not be enough for serious runners.
Most serious runners endeavor to maintain a balanced diet, but even the most scrupulous eaters can miss out on important nutrients. If your diet doesn’t contain just the right balance of performance-enhancing vitamins you could benefit from taking a running multivitamin. It’s best to eat whole foods, as they provide nutrients in combinations that pills cannot duplicate. But taking the right supplements will help runners to get the nutrients they need.
A recent study published in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition found that 35% of adults take multivitamins. Another study reported long-term vitamin users are less likely to suffer heart attacks. So should you take a multivitamin? If you are in good health and eat a wide variety of fresh, whole foods, you most likely won’t derive great benefits from a multivitamin. However, If you struggle to squeeze all the food groups into your daily diet, a multivitamin can fill in nutritional gaps. A multivitamin can also be of great help during very rigorous training when nutrient intake needs are greater.
Choose a multi with 100% of the daily recommended value for vitamins and minerals, and avoid excesses. Overly high doses of certain nutrients can be harmful. Keep in mind that humidity affects the potency of a vitamin, so keep them out of the kitchen and bathroom.
We need vitamin D to metabolize calcium, making it critical for bone health. The Institute of Medicine raised their recommended daily dose to 600 international units (IU). More recent research has linked vitamin D to a lesser risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Getting enough vitamin D can be difficult since few foods have it, and our bodies only produce it when exposed to UV rays. Most runners will benefit from taking a vitamin D supplement.