I used to avoid supplements, confident that I could get everything I needed from food. But eventually my body told me otherwise and I realized I needed to pay a little more attention, especially after a stress fracture 5 years ago, thinning hair and poor sleep quality.
There is some research to show that 100 years ago, yes, we could have gotten everything we need from food. But now, due to hybrid seeds, lack of crop rotation, poor soil quality and more, even our vegetables often contain less then half the nutrients that they used to.
Even when our diet is perfect, it’s nearly impossible to get everything we need. A number of my running friends (blogging and real life) have been testing their nutrient levels and learning where their deficiencies lie. I’ve brought mine back to healthy levels and I really feel the difference in everything from my steady energy in the afternoon to my faster recovery from hard workouts.
These are the nutrients that are most often missing in runners (especially women):
The sunshine vitamin is hard to get in the north more than half of the year.
What’s it do? Vitamin D is important to regulate calcium and phosphate in the body and to support good bone health.
Signs of deficiency? Low energy, mild depression/mood swing
Where can I get it? Oily fish and eggs, sun exposure and a D3 supplement
B vitamins, especially B12
What’s it do? B vitamins are essential for cell repair, especially keeping nerve and blood cells healthy. It affects our energy as well.
Signs of deficiency? Low energy, fatigue, weakness, depression
Where can I get it? Animal products: salmon, meat, cheese, eggs and milk as well as a B complex vitamin with a quality source of biotin (helps the body metabolize carbohydrates and fat … also key for healthy hair and skin!)
What’s it do? Iron helps red blood cells transport oxygen (key for athletes!)
Signs of deficiency? fatigue, shortness of breath
Where can I get it? red meat, dark green leafy vegetables, beans and nuts and as part of a pharmaceutical grade multi -vitamin
What’s it do? Magnesium is key for healthy bones and for using food for energy.
Signs of deficiency? cramping, anxiety, dizziness
Where can I get it? green leafy vegetables, brown rice, fish, nuts, dairy and as part of a pharmacuetical grade vitamin
What’s it do? Zinc helps the body process carbohydrates, fat and protein and is key for good immunity.
Signs of deficiency? hair loss, weak immune system, poor appetite
Where can I get it? meat, fish, dairy, by cooking with cast iron pans and as part of a pharmaceutical grade multi vitamin
Omega 3 fatty acids
While not often recognized as a deficiency, Omega 3 fatty acids are rarely in the correct ratio balance with Omega 6 fatty acids which can lead to chronic illness and inflammation. (These are the most highly linked to disease of all nutrient deficiencies.)
What’s it do? A powerful anti-inflammatory for the body for recovery and long term health and disease prevention
Signs of deficiency? Weak skin, hair and nails; skin issues; thirst; depression or anxiety
Where can I get it? Oily fish like salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, chia and a supplement with AHA and DHA from pure sustainable water
A lot of my health clients are either iron deficient or low in Vitamin D and I’m really careful with which supplements I recommend as vitamins are not regulated by the FDA. Many don’t contain what they say they do or have some contaminants (even if they claim to be organic/natural, I’ve seen so many recalls.)
This is why I’m really picky about pure vitamins that are well absorbed and only recommend those to my clients.
I know it can be a little overwhelming where to begin. Here’s what I usually suggest:
At minimum: A quality multi vitamin and Omega 3 supplement
Better: Add in a probiotic
Best: Add in B complex, D3 and extra C
If you have questions about any of this, I’m always happy to chat… just send me an email!
Have you tested for nutrient deficiencies?
What do you currently take?
Linking up with the Coaches Corner.