You know them, you need them but what actually are vitamins? Vitamins are an organic compound that don’t contribute to the energy supply of your body. However vitamins are a vital nutrient every organism needs in certain amounts in order to function. An organic compound is only called a vitamin if the body cannot synthesize a sufficient amount and thus needs to take it in with food. There are lots of vitamins with a wide range of biomechanical functions in your body. In this post I will focus on four of them, describe their function and why they are important for you as a runner.
Vitamin B6 (as other B vitamins) has several functions in your body. Vitamin B6 helps your body to make red blood cells that are crucial for transporting oxygen to your muscles. Apart from that B6 is also important to break down proteins into amino acids. Amino acids are used by most parts of your body whether it is your brain or parts of small cells. If needed Vitamin B6 can also help to use your body-own protein as a means of energy supply. Of course you shouldn’t let it come to that as this would reduce your muscle tissue.
You don’t need to supplement for a high enough intake of B6. Too much B6 can have some bad impact on your health like nausea and dizziness or even nerve damage. Just regularly eat stuff like bananas, kidney beans, tuna or salmon. You’ll also find it in garlic or hazelnuts.
This is probably the most known vitamin of them all. It is a great helper for your immune system and fights damage from free radicals. Vitamin C can also improve the functions of your lungs and airways and help you with inflammatory diseases. The list of benefits goes on and on so make sure to get enough of this vitamin in your daily diet. The recommended amount for adults is 75 milligrams (women) and 90 milligrams for men.
You find a lot of Vitamin C in all kinds of fruits and vegetables like oranges, mangos or broccoli. A good start is a glass of fruit juice for breakfast.
This vitamin is utterly needed when you train for a lot of miles. It helps absorb calcium in your body and is therefore crucial for strong bones. If your train a lot you can risk stress fractures and this risk can be reduced by sufficient amounts of vitamin D as well as enough calcium.
You don’t necessarily need to look at your diet to get enough of this vitamin. It is produced by your body when you expose your skin to direct sunlight. This is another reason you should go outside for a run especially in good weather. If you live in a cloudy climate you can find vitamin D in most fish.
Like Vitamin C this is also an antioxidant that can prevent damage in your cells. The main difference to vitamin C is that E is fat-soluble and C is water-soluble. Vitamin E is not as known and considered in the diet of most people. You should get 15 milligrams per day and studies suggest that with increased amount of exercise you’ll also benefit from a higher vitamin E intake.
You find this vitamin in almonds and hazelnuts or in sunflower seeds that you can add to your salad.
Besides the energy compounds of food and vitamins there are a lot of other vital nutrients like minerals that I will cover in future posts.