by Amy Bondar, Nutritional Therapist
Supplements, also referred to as “therapeutic foods”, are an important part of your nutritional lifestyle. The truth is we don’t receive all of our nutrients at optimum levels from food alone. Nutrient depleted soils don’t offer us all we need to ensure our cells are functioning optimally. Living with daily stress and in a toxic environment also deplete our nutrients and can contribute to cellular or systemic inflammation in the body, which is believed to be the precursor to rapid aging and chronic disease. Working out and running regularly can also delete our nutrients and put stress on our bodies, so supplements are a key player in prevention and optimum health and ensuring you are supporting and replenishing your body.
Everybody is unique and not everyone does well on the same supplements. Just like food is medicine in one’s body and poison in another, we can say the same for supplements. It is important then, to work with a qualified nutritionist that can help you determine your personal supplement requirements. In saying that, however, there are 3 supplements that can be very beneficial for runners: multi-mineral, omega 3 fish oil and electrolytes.
Cramps, muscle pains, stiff joints, muscular weakness, slow recovery, frequent injuries, anxiety, dry hair, nails and skin, are all common signs of mineral deficiency.
Minerals are essential for the body to function. They are key players is every metabolic process in the body. They lubricate and support the tissues, joints and muscles and they also help to create alkalinity in the body. Since running puts strain on our joints and muscles it is important to replenish the body with minerals. We can all benefit from taking a high quality multi-mineral supplement (Innate, Mega Foods and AOR are a few examples of brand names that can be found at your local health-food or vitamin store)
Omega 3 Fish Oil
Essential Fatty Acids are essential for the body, they feed and fuel the brain, they produce all the hormones in the body, they lubricate the joints, support muscle and joint recovery and repair, they balance insulin, nourish the skin, hair and nails and are essential for many biochemical processes in the body. Omega 3 fats in particular help to turn down inflammation in the body.
Essential fatty acid deficiency is very common and can contribute to dryness, constipation, eczema, aches and pains in the body, edema and tissue inflammation. As a runner you want fluid movement, and to prevent stiffness and aches and pains in the body. Taking a high quality fish oil can be very helpful in supporting the body and preventing injury and inflammation. (Carlson’s Cod Liver Oil, Nutra Sea and Norwegian Fish Oil are good brands that can be found at your local health-food or vitamin store).
Electrolytes are the trace minerals that we sweat out during exercise (sodium, potassium, magnesium, etc.). For runners, electrolyte replacement is important to ensure intracellular hydration which prevents edema – swelling of hands and feet, to prevent cramps, the “trots” and to keep the body hydrated.
Many people use sport drinks as an electrolyte replacer but they are often filled with high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, food dyes and artificial flavors. It is best to use a supplement (Trace Elements by Health Solute is a good brand) that you can easily drop into your water bottle. You can also purchase Coconut Water which has a high concentration of electrolytes.
We run to feel and look good, to be healthy, to get that runner’s high, to strengthen our bodies and to be in nature. Along the way though, we can get injured, deplete our bodies, get stiff and sore and create fatigue. This is where supplements can play a key role in prevention and optimization. So pick up these 3 supplements and start to see if you notice a difference in your running performance and recovery.