Runners Nutrition Part 3: Vitamins

The first step to “Good” Nutrition is focusing on what foods you need for optimal performance, instead of focusing on what foods to avoid. We first covered water and now we are onto vitamins.

The common assumption that an American endurance athletes make is that if they avoid the foods that could harm performance, they will automatically consume foods that will improve performance. However getting the proper nutrients isn’t that easy.

To learn what an endurance athlete needs to eat in order to maximize performance we will focus on two primary objectives:

  • What am I consuming?
  • Why should I consume it?

What am I consuming?  NUTRIENTS

There are six classes of nutrients: water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

1. What am I consuming? Vitamins
Vitamins are needed in small amounts and are not “used up” in the metabolic reactions.  However they are degraded like any biological molecule and must be replaced on a regular basis to maintain body stores.  Vitamins exist in two forms: Fat-Soluble and Water-Soluble.  Vitamins taken in excess can lead to toxicity.

Fat-Soluble vitamins include A, D, E and K.  These vitamins can be stored in large quantities in the body; thus a deficiency state takes longer to develop than for water-soluble vitamins.

Water-Soluble vitamins include C, the B vitamins: thiamin (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin, pyridoxine (B-6), folic acid, B-12, pantothenic acid and biotin.  Most are involved in energy metabolism.  Vitamin C is involved in the maintenance of bone, cartilage and connective tissue.

2. Why should I consume it? Vitamins
The most important vitamins for elite endurance athletes are:

Vitamin C
Found in citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli and greens
Vitamin C helps with connective tissue synthesis, hormone synthesis, and neurotransmitter synthesis

Vitamin B-12
Found in animal foods, oysters and clams
B-12 helps with folate metabolism and nerve function

Thiamin
Found in sunflower seeds, pork, whole and enriched grains, dried beans, peas and brewers yeast
Thiamin is involved in carbohydrate metabolism and nerve function

Riboflavin
Found in milk, mushrooms, spinach, liver and enriched grains
Riboflavin is involved in energy metabolism

Niacin
Found in mushrooms, bran, tuna, salmon, chicken, beef, liver, peanuts and enriched grains

Pantothenic acid
Found in mushrooms, liver, broccoli and eggs
Pantothenic acid is involved in energy metabolism, fat synthesis, fat breakdown

Biotin
Found in cheese, egg yolks, cauliflower, peanut butter and liver
Biotin is involved in glucose production and fat synthesis

Vitamin B-6
Found in animal protein foods, spinach, broccoli, bananas, salmon and sunflower seeds
Vitamin B-6 is involved in protein metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis, hemoglobin synthesis

Vitamin D
Found in fortified milk, fish oils and breakfast cereals
Vitamin D facilitates absorption of calcium and phosphorus and maintains optimal calcification of bone

Vitamin K
Found in green vegetables and liver
Vitamin K helps form prothromibin and other factors for blood clotting and contribute to metabolism

How do you get your vitamins?

__________________________________________________________________

Reference:

Thanks Dr. David Martin for your insight on runner’s nutrition and letting us use your research. He told us we could glean and share his information, as we’re working to help you guys run faster.

Better Training for Distance Runners by David Martin

 Exercise Physiology by Powers and Howley 331

 


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  1. Runners Nutrition Part 4: Minerals - GoGo Running — October 30, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

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