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Running is a comprehensive sport requiring physical and mental fortitude. Whether you are lacing up for your first mile, trying for a 5k PR or entering your first Boston Marathon, running requires patience, stamina and taking care of your body. Your best run begins with proper nutrition, the right running shoes and gear for your body and a solid recovery plan.
Getting the right nutrition to fuel your run can be tricky. Most adults do not require supplementation. Our bodies achieve nutrition requirements through diet. However, between work, life and training schedules, diet preferences and life stressors, ticking all the necessary daily nutritional boxes can be challenging.
Running supplements can help fill the gaps in your diet. By integrating these into your pre and post-run routine, you’ll get the help you need to go that extra mile and recover accordingly.
Make sure to talk to a healthcare professional about your individual needs and appropriate dosages before adding any supplement to your routine.
Our Picks for the Best Supplements for Runners:
- Cost per serving: $1.00 per serving
- Key nutrients: Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Folate, Vitamin B12, Iron, Magnesium, Omega-3 DHA, Vitamin K2
- Type: Capsule
- Dose: Two capsules daily
- Certifications: USP Verified, Certified B Corp, Non-GMO product Verified, Gluten and Major Allergen Free, Vegan
Multivitamins provide a wide array of nutrients which can help fill nutritional gaps in runners’ diets. We like Ritual for its easy subscription model and commitment to ingredient efficacy.
Ingredients used in Ritual’s multivitamin are naturally extracted and traceable from their point of origin. Ritual vitamins are an excellent option for any runner looking for a high-quality, vegan, non-GMO, soy-free and gluten-free multivitamin and those with dietary restrictions. What differentiates this multivitamin is that it contains iron but leaves out Vitamin C and calcium.
Ritual is also a Certified B Corp. Certified B Corp companies demonstrate high standards of transparency, accountability and performance through business models designed to aid its workers, community, environment and customers.
- B Corp business
- Backed by scientific research
- Traceable ingredients
- Major allergen free
- Third-party tested
- Money-back guarantee
- Free delivery
- Subscription only
- Not customizable
- May be more expensive than other similar products
- Missing some key vitamins and minerals
- Cost per serving: $1.99 per serving with the one-time purchase. The subscription cost per serving drops to $1.69
- Key nutrients: Grass-fed whey protein isolate and sodium chloride
- Type: Powder
- Dose: Serving is one scoop (32.96 grams)/30 servings per container
- Certifications: Made from naturally fed hormone-free cow whey, clean of artificial sweeteners, food dyes, gluten and preservatives
Transparent Lab Whey Protein Isolate contains 2.5 grams of fat and two grams of carbs per serving and still delivers 24 grams of protein per serving. With eight flavors to choose from, you can find a flavor to please your palate.
Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate is very committed to transparency. Its protein isolate is made from 100 percent naturally fed, hormone-free cow whey and is free of artificial sweeteners, food dyes and preservatives.
A possible downside is the price may be slightly higher than competitors. Also, Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate is processed in a facility that has coconut and peanuts.
- Eight flavors
- 100 percent grass-fed whey concentrate
- Free of artificial flavors and sweeteners
- Not a nut-free product. Product is processed in a facility that has coconut and peanuts
- Pricier than other protein powders
- Cost per serving: About $0.46 per serving for one-time purchase, and about $0.37 per serving for the subscribe and save option
- Key nutrients: L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine
- Type: Powder
- Dose: Serving is one scoop with 5.5 grams per scoop.
- Certifications: Vegan, Informed-Sport Certified, Non-GMO
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are supplements that increase muscle growth, improve outcomes of exercise-induced muscle damage and reduce post workout muscle soreness.
Kaged BCAA 2:1:1 powder offers informed-sport certified, vegan, fermented ingredients suitable for even very strict diets. The product is unflavored so it can easily be mixed with your favorite workout drink in a shaker bottle. Kaged goes further to describe its powder as a part of a “mix-your-own system,” allowing you to stack your BCAAs with any pre-, mid- or post-workout drink to meet your defined nutritional needs.
As with many unflavored BCAA supplements, some customer reviews on Kaged’s product page report a bitter taste when using Kaged’s BCAA 2:1:1 powder. Overall, consumers are very happy with their Kaged BCAA 2:1:1 supplement.
- Dissolves quickly
- Informed-Sport certified
- Pure ingredients
- Cost per serving: $0.25 per serving
- Key nutrients: Vitamin D3 125 micrograms (5,000 IU)
- Type: Vegetable Capsule
- Dose: One capsule
- Certifications: Non-GMO, Gluten Free
Vitamins are essential for health and development. Vitamin deficiency may lead to serious health consequences. For example, since Vitamin D is required for calcium absorption, Vitamin D deficiency can cause bones to weaken, which can put runners at risk of stress fractures.
Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D3 is our choice for the best running supplement for Vitamin D. Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D3 provides 5,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D, which plays a key nutritional role in supporting healthy bones and overall health. With a serving of 5,000 IU, it creeps above the upper limit recommendation for Vitamin D supplementation of 4,000 IUs. Some users may experience side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, constipation or weight loss. Check with your healthcare provider before starting.
- Supports bone health
- Potential side effects due to the amount of Vitamin D
- Cost per serving: $0.22 per serving
- Key nutrients: Iron as Ferrous Bisglycinate Chelate 25 milligrams
- Type: Capsule
- Dose: One capsule
- Certifications: Gluten-Free, NSF Certified for Sport
Iron bisglycinate , or ferrous bisglycinate, is a specialized form of iron that’s easily absorbed without the typical negative gastrointestinal side effects. Thorne Iron Bisglycinate is great for endurance athletes, female athletes with heavy menstruation or anyone who needs a little boost in their iron supply. If you are just starting to take an iron supplement as part of your regimen, note that it can take one to four weeks for the supplement to take effect and demonstrate a change in hemoglobin levels.
As a running supplement, Throne Iron Bisglycinate is NSF Certified For Sport, which was a major reason for selecting this product. NSF verifies products do not contain unsafe levels of contaminants, prohibited substances or masking agents. The rigorous third-party testing ensures what is on the label matches what is in the product.
- NSF Certified for Sport
- Soy, dairy and gluten free
- Reports of minimal GI side effects
- May take one to four weeks for the supplement to take effect
- Cost per serving: $0.24 per serving
- Key nutrients: Magnesium Glycinate 120 milligrams
- Type: Capsule
- Dose: One capsule, suggested one to four times daily or as directed by a trainer coach or health professional
- Certifications: Gluten-free, GMO-free, vegan, NSF Certified Sport
Magnesium is a mineral that plays an essential role in a wide range of cellular functions. It is involved in protein development and energy metabolism, as well as muscle contraction and relaxation. One study showed a significant increase in athletic performance during long distance running sessions when runners used a magnesium supplement. Magnesium can also be added for post run recovery since it promotes muscle tissue recovery and reduces soreness.
Klean Magnesium contains 120 milligrams of a chelated complex per serving, which dissolves easily in water and provides support for muscle cells for optimal athletic performance and recovery. Klean Athlete’s supplements are all NSF certified for sport, so you know that you’re getting exactly what’s on the label.
- Magnesium can aid in the performance of endurance athletes
- NSF certified for Sport
- Minimal external reviews of Klean
- Cost per serving: $0.30 per serving
- Key nutrients: Vitamin C as ascorbic acid, Organic Bioflavonoid Complex Blend (Organic amla fruit, organic rosehips, organic orange peel, organic green bell pepper)
- Type: Tablet
- Dose: One tablet daily
- Certifications: B-Corp, Non-GMO Project verified, kosher, gluten-free, vegan
Vitamin C is an important nutrient for runners as it aids in the regeneration and growth of tissue in the body, and supports a healthy immune system. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant offering cellular support for protein metabolism which is especially helpful for long-distance runners and sprinters alike.
This brand is made from non-GMO, vegan and allergy-friendly ingredients. The ingredients are derived from organic fruits and vegetables, and MegaFood is a Certified B Corp.
One ingredient to look out for with MegaFood Complex C is rosehips. While safe for most, rosehips can interact with some medications and may increase the risk of kidney stone development. Also, rosehip consumption is contraindicated for individuals with a history of sickle cell anemia.
- Certified B corp business
- Non-GMO, vegan and allergy-friendly ingredients
- Contains rosehips, which could be troublesome for certain individuals
- Cost per serving: $0.29 per serving for 120 capsules; $0.33 per serving for 60 capsules container
- Key nutrients: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, Lactococcus, and Pediococcus
- Type: Capsule
- Dose: One capsule up to four times per day or as directed by a health professional
- Certifications: Vegetarian, gluten-free, no peanuts/tree nuts
Jarro-Dophilus EPS is a shelf-stable, eight-probiotic strain capsule. Studies demonstrate the benefits probiotics may have on marathon training and running performance by reducing GI symptoms.
For convenience, this non-GMO and gluten-free product is packaged in a blister pack to protect the probiotics from moisture and oxygen.
- Does not require refrigeration
- Convenient packaging
- Gluten-free, nut-free and non-GMO
Why Should Runners Use Supplements?
Running can be hard on the body, which means that your muscles and joints need optimum nutrition to fuel and recover correctly. In combination with sleep, hydration and adjunct training strategies, supplements can help meet the body’s micro and macronutrient requirements. Dietary supplements can help improve or maintain your overall health. Furthermore, supplements can also help you meet your daily requirements of essential nutrients.
How to Use Running Supplements
Running supplements might enhance a runner’s performance but do not substitute for a nutrient-dense diet. Runners should focus on eating a healthy diet with the guidance of a medical professional first. Supplements should be taken according to the package directions and in conjunction with the recommendation by a healthcare professional.
What Runners Should Look for in Supplements
It’s critical to understand the ingredients and the dose of the supplement you’re taking and how it fits into your current diet, lifestyle and training plan. It is not always clear which supplements are high quality and which are a waste of your money or even potentially dangerous. This is why it is important to read labels and check for quality testing and ingredient sourcing. For athletes, the gold standard certification is the internationally renowned NSF Certified for Sport. The Certified for Sport certification program ensures that the product contains exactly what is listed on its label, and does not contain unsafe levels of contaminants, prohibited substances, or masking agents. Consumerlabs.com and U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) are two additional reliable third-party supplement testing companies.
Overall, it is important when researching running supplements to understand the chemical makeup, how the supplement is prepared and how it works in the body
Running supplements are designed to supplement—not replace—nutrients or other compounds in your diet. Always read the label for instructions, and consult with your healthcare provider prior to use.
Read the label of the supplement you are taking, and follow the instructions provided there. Do not go above the recommended dosage, as some supplements have adverse effects when taken in too high a quantity. Be aware of any interactions the supplement may have with other medications or foods you consume.
Supplements are ingested and come in many forms, including tablets, tinctures, powders, liquids, capsules, soft gels, gel caps, bars and gummies.
Vitamins and supplements are not regulated by the FDA for effectiveness or safety.
Third-party certification/verification programs in the dietary supplement industry are fee-based programs and participation is voluntary. ConsumerLab.com, NSF International and U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) are three third-party companies that test supplements.
The organizations mentioned test dietary supplements as finished products for identity, ingredient quality, strength, purity and, as applicable, freshness and disintegration. Products must meet acceptable limits for suspected contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, dioxins, furans, polychlorinated biphenyls and microbes.
You certainly do not need to pay the highest prices to get good quality supplements. Moreover, the cost of a supplement is not an accurate predictor of quality. ConsumerLab tests have found some of the most economical products, costing pennies a day, are of better quality than premium-priced supplements costing more than a dollar a day.
Who Should Avoid Running Supplements
For competing athletes, potential disadvantages of supplement use include expense, and the risk of ingesting substances banned under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s List.
Regardless if you are a professional or amateur, avoid supplements if you have an allergy to any of the listed ingredients or are on medications that could interfere with supplemental ingredients.
Work closely with your healthcare provider for guidance on the best running supplement for your needs.
Do runners need multivitamins?
By eating a well-balanced diet, most people, including runners, will not require a multivitamin. Those with diet restrictions, who are pregnant, have health conditions or are unable to obtain the recommended nutrients from diet alone may benefit from taking a multivitamin.
What will give me the energy to run?
Generating and sustaining energy to run requires a healthy lifestyle. This includes integrating healthy habits such as proper nutrition, adequate sleep and hydration.
Should runners take protein?
Adequate protein intake, whether through diet alone or with supplementation is critical for runners. Protein is necessary to maintain muscle protein synthesis, support energy production and improve recovery efforts. Whether you need to take a protein supplement depends on how much protein you consume in your daily diet. According to the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, runners require 1.4 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. That means that a 150 pound athlete would need approximately 90 to 120 grams per day.
What can I take to run faster and longer?
Should runners take creatine?
Creatine, a naturally occurring substance stored in our muscles and brain, helps release energy during high-intensity situations. On average, the human body produces one gram of creatine per day. A balanced diet without creatine supplements then provides another gram per day. Studies show creatine can improve muscle mass, expedite muscle recovery and boost high-intensity performance.
Creatine, which is often included in pre-workout supplements, would most likely benefit sprinters looking to put on mass or striving for strength gains. Long-distance runners and endurance athletes would not necessarily need to use creatine supplementation regularly since it is tailored for rapid, maximum-effort workouts. However, creatine may be beneficial before conducting hill sprints or interval workouts.
Do runners need supplements?
No, runners do not need supplements. Daily nutritional requirements can be met from diet alone. However, supplementation will benefit runners who may not be able to meet their daily intake requirements through their food intake.
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.