Supplements specialised for athletes are becoming more and more prevalent in local nutritional retailers and online stores. But what are the supplements that are best tailored for runners and what makes them so important?
In the following, we will share research-based supplements shown to either improve the performance or decrease health injury. At the same time, we will discuss why we think they are the best supplements to take for runners.
It’s Important to Be in the Know.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), dietary supplements include ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and enzymes. Some purposes for these supplements are to make sure your body gets enough of the vital substances to function or reduce the risk of a disease.
Also, it’s important to note that taking too much of certain supplements like vitamin A, vitamin D, or iron can lead to negative side effects.
When searching for the best supplement, FDA recommends the use of non-commercial sites like the National Institute of Health (NIH), the FDA, or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). If the claim of these supplements sound too good to be true, then it probably is. The term natural does not always translate to “safe”.
Lastly, always refer to your doctor if you are not sure about the safety of a certain supplement.
What Makes for a Great Supplement?
As we will discuss below, there are key supplements that have been scientifically proven to improve your performance. So before getting into the details, it is important to note that these supplements and ergogenic aids only help in performance and nothing else. Overall, performance is determined by how much you put into your training and diet.
Maintaining a general balance of iron in the body is very important. This is considered one of the most important minerals in regards to sports performance.
Iron helps in the metabolism process and the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. In a research done by Bear on the “Iron Status and Exercise”, female athletes have shown a prevalence of iron deficiency anemia.
Furthermore, Bear’s research recommended the use of low dose iron supplement to offset the decline of iron during training.
Maintaining an optimum level of calcium is important for bone health. In Maughan’s study, he states that calcium and iron are the two nutrients most likely to be low in young athletes’ diets. An inadequate amount of calcium may increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Calcium may not be considered an ergogenic substance, but it is certainly important when considering a sport such as running where athletes are prone to bone injury.
Vitamin C is important for runners as it helps in the growth and maintenance of cells in the body. It is an antioxidant that protects the body from the oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
Gerster’s research pointed that Vitamin C supplementation improved the physical performance of vitamin C deficient athletes. The benefits don’t stop there, a study on long distance runners determined that vitamin C may enhance resistance from post-race upper respiratory tract infection, a common problem for marathon runners.
What About Ergogenic Aids? Do They Really Work?
What is an Ergogenic substance?
An ergogenic substance is defined as something intended to improve physical performance, recovery, or endurance.
Apart from dietary supplements whose main purpose is to supplement the deficiency of a certain substance in your body, there are other substances used to enhance your physical performance.
Creatine supplements have been on the market for a while now and as the manufacturing process improves so does the research to measure its effect on athletes. Creatine supplement is used to help grow and repair muscle fibres. This is especially important to athletes involved in intense workouts like long-distance running.
In a 2016 double-blind randomized trial on the effects of plyometric training supplemented with creatine, it showed positive results on the endurance of the female soccer players who were being studied. The study measured the players’ jumping and sprinting performances, and the creatine group showed more improvements than the control and the placebo groups.
Ginseng is an ancient medicine that has been used for over 1700 years to treat things such as fatigue. It promotes the transport of oxygen to the muscles. Bernardot’s 2006 study reveals the positive effects of ginseng in endurance activities.
This is a common active ingredient in many workout supplements. It improves athletic performance by helping in the conversion of body fats into ATP. This action of converting fat into energy is one of the reasons why it gained its popularity.
As we find out from the research, these supplements and ergogenic aids work to supplement workout. They prevent deficiencies that can otherwise negatively affect performance. As for ergogenic substances that help in the overall performance, they show promising results.
There is a growing desire to improve performance while at the same time there is an ever-growing market for ergogenic substances. Because of this, athletes must be very familiar with the ergogenic craze and the studies behind it.