Dietary Supplements for Runners?

A discussion of dietary supplement use by trail runners and ultramarathoners.

By on May 21, 2010 | 39 comments

Dietary supplementsDietary supplements* are a hot topic in my corner of the ultrarunning world. Last week, Krissy Moehl stopped by on her way to Yosemite and had me try two of her favorite supplements, Green Foods Magma Plus and Udo’s Oil 3-6-9 blend. Then, the other night, top ultrarunners Gary Robbins and Devon Crosby-Helms were tweeting back and forth about the slew of supplements they take. I find it informative to learn that Devon uses supplements, such as oils, maca, and greens, given her passion for food and great diet. The following morning, Duncan Callahan published a training update on his blog in which he noted that he takes multivitamins and a liquid calcium supplement from Lifeforce.

I, too, take dietary supplements nearly every day, although my supplement use is not all that exciting. I take a standard multivitamin as a precaution for any minor nutritional deficiencies I have. As a vegetarian athlete, I’m cautious about my iron and B-vitamin intake, so I usually take these supplements every few days. I take the iron daily when I head to 6,000′ or higher for more than a few days and up the frequency of my iron and B-vitamin intake whenever I have stretches of low energy. I have taken calcium/vitamin D supplements, but only when I was training with a heavy pack for the Marathon des Sables. At the moment, I’m dealing with plantar fasciitis (read more on that here) and a reader recently suggested I try Stresstabs. As the product is primarily a B-Complex, I’ve decided to give it a go with a generic version, as I’m confident that daily use of this supplement can’t hurt.

Call for Discussion
We’d love to know what dietary supplements you take and why, particularly if you use them to enhance or prolong your athletic endeavors. Don’t do dietary supplements? Tell us why not.

[Disclaimer: The Amazon link to Stresstabs is part of an affiliate program that helps support iRunFar. Please note that if you purchase any product, including the above listed supplements, after clicking through an Amazon.com link on this site (even if for a product unrelated to the one you order), you help support iRunFar.]

*I’m talking about dietary supplements that folks use to supplement their diets outside of competition. Many “food like” in- and post-workout/race products, such as Gu Roctane, First Endurance Ultragen, and Vespa, are classified as dietary supplements in the US due to the peculiarities of American food and drug law. How do I know? Because I spent 8 years working at a food and drug law firm where dietary supplements became my specialty by the time I became a law clerk and then attorney.

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.