Supplements for Runners

Hey y’all! Today I want to share a little bit of information about a few supplements that are important for distance runners (and athletes in general). I just recently learned some of this information, so I want to pass it along in case anyone else needs to hear it as well.

Running long distances can place an extra demand on various minerals and vitamins in our diet, so we need to make sure we are getting in enough calcium and iron, and taking supplements, if needed, to make sure we maintain the proper levels. I try to make it a habit to take these supplements daily.


This may be the most important nutrient for an athlete. The stress of running can increase the demand for calcium in the body. Calcium is essential for strong bones and many people do not get enough of it in their regular diet. All athletes should make sure they get 1,200 to 1,500 mg of calcium daily from food or supplements. Insufficient calcium intake can lead to stress fractures, growth problems, osteoporosis and other skeletal problems.

I have been taking a calcium supplement for a while now. I have been taking 1,000 mg per day. However, what I didn’t realize was that your body can only absorb up to 500 mg of calcium at a time, so you have to spread it out if you are taking more than 500 mg. Here are the ones I take (and yes, they are gummies and yes, they are delicious).


The great thing about these is that they are also high in Vitamin D, which is important in order for your body to be able to absorb calcium. Many distance runners develop stress fractures that they are later able to trace back to vitamin D deficiencies, which kept their bodies from fully absorbing the calcium they took in.


Athletes who train for six or more hours per week often have iron-deficiency anemia and should be checked yearly for the condition. Athletes use iron stores more quickly than non-athletes and many distance runners, especially women and those who log high mileage, find they are low in iron. Iron is important for the production of red blood cells which is a key component in distance running. The recommended daily amount of iron ranges from 10 to 15 mg per day, which is an amount that can be easily acquired from food. In the absence of anemia, athletes shouldn’t take any supplemental iron because it raises the risk of heart disease and colon cancer.

When I started back to marathon-specific training last winter, I had my iron levels checked. My iron was 15.8 and while the “normal” range listed on the test results is 13 – 400, I needed to be much higher than where I was, so I started taking an iron supplement. I take two of these per day and I take it with Vitamin C, as Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron.


However, what I didn’t know until recently was that calcium blocks the absorption of iron, so you can’t take your calcium supplement at the same time as you take your iron. Also, don’t take the iron supplement on an empty stomach! It doesn’t sit well. So, basically what I do now is 500 mg of calcium in the morning with breakfast, 130 mg of iron and 500 mg of Vitamin C mid-day with lunch, and 500 mg of calcium in the evening with dinner.

Here are some handy charts that I found, showing what foods are high in different vitamins and minerals:

 Vitamin D Iron 

Last night, I made our second Blue Apron meal and it seemed to be more “work” that the first one, but it was really good and well worth the extra effort. This one was hoison-glazed chicken meatballs with zucchini and brown rice. I had never heard of hoison sauce before, but it is a Chinese staple used as a meat glaze and usually includes soy, red chillies and garlic. Vinegar and sugar are also commonly added, giving it a sweet and salty taste.

Here are the fresh ingredients: zucchini, scallions, garlic and ginger.

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And here is the finished product!

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I wasn’t a big fan of actually forming the meatballs, something about touching raw meat is extremely unappealing to me, and of course and soon as I got the nerve up to dig my hands in, I got an important call from work that I had to take! Our signal is horrible so I had to scramble out to the front porch to answer the call … which meant that I talked on the phone for over thirty minutes with the phone between my ear and shoulder and raw food all over my hands. Lovely.

I was definitely over it by the time I finished cooking this one. But then when Daniel got home and we finally ate it, it was absolutely wonderful and he LOVED it and that made it all worth it!

Cooking, I still don’t love you, but I’m not giving up on you yet.


That’s it for now. Gotta run!


6 thoughts on “Supplements for Runners”

  1. This is great information. Good to know about Almond Milk being on top. I don’t use it anymore because Simply Balances (Target) is much cheaper. However, I do buy it when it’s on sale.

    I take two pills everyday which has calcium, magnesium, and zinc. I just realized that I should take three because each one has 333 mg of calcium. Now you got me thinking about iron. I’ve also read to be careful so as not to overdose and that can be dangerous.


    1. I think it is pretty difficult to overdose, but you definitely don’t need to take it if your levels are okay. If you’ve had them checked or aren’t feeling cronically run down or fatigued and aren’t bruising easily, you are probably A-okay!


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