A healthy, balanced diet and proper training provide a runner with the edge to perform at an optimum level. If, however, you feel your times are slowing and recovery isn't coming as readily as it should, you may be tempted to turn to supplements to improve your performance. Before adding any supplement to your daily routine, check with a doctor to make sure you don't have a nutrient imbalance or undetected medical concern. Overtraining can also make you feel tired, uninspired and overworked.
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You'll want a doctor to check if your antioxidant levels are up to par as well as determine if you have high levels of inflammation, which may indicate an underlying health problem. Inflammation can be a normal result of the stress of running, so you may need vitamin E, CoQ10 and vitamin C, for example, to keep inflammation at bay and aid in recovery. Runners may also want to get their vitamin and mineral levels checked, including iron and vitamin B-12 levels. If you're anemic, you might need one of these supplemental nutrients. Other vitamins important to any athlete are the B complex vitamins, which help with energy metabolism and cell production, and vitamin D, which boosts energy levels and assists in bone health.
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Whole foods offer the most natural, safest and most easily absorbed nutrients. Taking fish oil and a multivitamin is unlikely to harm you and can help fill in any nutritional gaps in your diet. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil supplements may be of value to a runner who doesn't eat a lot of walnuts, flax or oily fish. These fatty acids support immune function, healthy cell walls and optimal functioning of the nervous system. If you choose to take a multivitamin, make sure it doesn't have more than 200 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for any one vitamin and is whole-food sourced, recommends author and trainer Matt Fitzgerald in an article on Competitor.com.