Runners require Vitamin D, as its an important nutrient to avoid stress injuries, writes Nandini Reddy
Runners get all their macro nutrients right with the diet they follow. That is easily monitored and the room for error is slim. But in terms of micro-nutrients, despite eating a balanced diet, there might be shortfall, especially of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is particularly important for runners. Having adequate Vitamin D helps one reduce anxiety, strengthen bones and run with better power. It is an important factor in improving overall muscle strength and improved heart health too.
How do you know if you are deficient?
There are certain symptoms that will indicate a lower level of Vitamin D. You might have sore muscles often with pain that doesn’t subside easily. Fever and bone fractures in the ribs, hips, thighs and feet. If you are experiencing these symptoms then testing for Vitamin D is a good idea. A blood test will determine the levels and a physician can give you a temporary medication to amp up the levels of Vitamin D in your body until your natural rhythm sets in. Any medication should be taken under the supervision of a doctor as there are adverse affect to Vitamin D being too high as it can become toxic.
How do we get Vitamin D?
The best known way to get Vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. With at least 30 minutes of exposure to the slanting rays of the sun, the body is able to synthesize Vitamin D. But just spending time in the sun isn’t enough to ensure that you body get enough Vitamin D. Along with sun exposure these inclusions in your diet will increase the Vitamin D – fatty fish, mushrooms and eggs. You also get fortified foods like milk and breakfast cereals but getting the nutrition directly from foods is a better option. These are just sources but to ensure absorption you need to consume magnesium rich foods and high dietary fibre foods, such as nuts, leafy greens, beans, avocado, olive oil, etc.
While you might feel that you are doing enough by running early mornings. You should realise that unless you expose a significant amount of skin without using sunscreens and creams, your body cannot generate adequate Vitamin D. Hence it is important to ensure that the diet also supports in maintaining the required levels.
How does it affect running performance?
As a runner it is important to ensure that you muscles and bones are in top health. If you have inadequate Vitamin D then you might experience the following during your training:
- Quick exhaustion
- Muscle soreness that lasts for days
- Slower recovery
- Stress injury on your legs
- Nausea from running or any exercise
- Bad Immunity to common colds, flu and cough
There is a designated amount of Vitamin D that has be present depending on the persons age which your physician will be able to prescribe.