Running is very taxing on the body, whether you’re a long-distance runner or a sprinter. Therefore, you must supply your body with the proper nutrients for your performance to be at peak potential or gain a competitive edge.
However, our food needs to be improved to meet the daily nutrient requirement. Fortunately, there are several supplements that runners can take to maintain high energy levels during training and the race.
Some supplements help them quickly get back on their feet and run again after a long training day. So, if you’re looking for the best supplements for runners to improve performance and recovery, you’ve come to the right place.
Below is a list of supplements that will give your body the extra boost to push for more.
This article won’t be a sales pitch or rambling about how these supplements are the best in the world. Instead, we’ll lay the facts for you to make an informed decision.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Importance of Supplements (Along with Sleep and a Healthy Diet) for Runners
Supplements maintain balance so that runners can be at their best. After all, running causes deficits and imbalances that affect their overall performance and health.
Meanwhile, some supplements also regulate specific body issues, especially when training demands are high.
Top 7 Best Supplements for Runners to Improve Performance and Recovery
1. Protein Powder
Protein is essential for runners. It repairs tissue, prevents injuries, helps exercise recovery and immune function, and produces red blood cells that carry oxygen to all body parts. [1-2]
As such, runners need to consider adding protein to their diet. Although the Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein for adults is 0.36 grams per pound (or 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight), that’s low for many adults. More so if they’re athletes.
Ideally, runners need between 0.5 to .9 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily. Those running for more than a few hours weekly, such as marathoners and endurance runners, likely need protein grams closer to their body weight. [3-4].
So, if a runner weighs 150 pounds, he needs 75 to 135 grams of protein daily.
Eating whole foods is also a healthy protein strategy. Yet, getting enough protein every day can be challenging. That’s where protein powder becomes beneficial.
A high-quality protein powder or protein supplement helps with muscle recovery, accelerates muscle growth, keeps your body healthy, rebuilds muscle fibers, and protects runners from injuries by aiding their muscles to heal faster.
Additionally, a good nutrition recovery plan for runners should include a mixture of fluid, carbohydrates, and protein. It initiates protein synthesis, which repairs and rebuilds connective tissues and skeletal muscles following athletic events and training bouts.
Best protein supplements for runners:
- Vega Sport Premium Protein Powder
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder
2. Vitamin C
Runners’ immune systems can be subjected to plenty of stress. Therefore, many marathoners report symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections in the first week or after completing their race. It’s because the physically stressful event takes a toll on their body.
Vitamin C is also one of the best-known supplements for endurance athletes. It improves their immune system and boosts their performance and recovery.
In addition, this water-soluble vitamin supports the function of different types of white blood cells in the body. Some play a role in stomping infections, and others engulf foreign invaders.
This supplement is especially beneficial for runners with a limited intake of animal products or following a vegetarian diet. The form of iron in foods, such as legumes, beans, and other green leafy vegetables, is not absorbable as the one found in meat.
When you consume iron-containing vegetables with vitamin C, it enhances iron absorption. It likewise functions as an antioxidant, protecting the body from free radicals that can damage the tissues.
Best vitamin C supplements for runners:
- Megafood Complex C
- Natural Liposomal Vitamin C
Carnosine supplements reduce lactic acid accumulation in the muscle during running and training, leading to improved athletic performance. 
Running at an anaerobic pace, where the body needs more oxygen than the lungs can provide, creates lactic acid build-up in the muscle.
Short, intense bursts of speed without enough oxygen available in the body to sustain the effort similarly create lactic acid. Other ways the body produces lactic acid are (1) increasing distance or speed too quickly and (2) beginner runners beginning a running program, but their muscles still need to be used to the running workload.
A high level of acid in the body causes an imbalance in the body’s pH, which may impair exercise performance. Muscle acidity also blocks the breakdown of glucose or a process called glycol. It also reduces the muscle’s capacity to contract and leads to fatigue.
Additionally, Carnosine helps with glycolysis. It is a buffer against muscle acidity during a high-intensity workout or a run.
Best carnosine supplements for runners:
- ChemiPower CarnoSport (gel)
- NOW L-Carnosine (Beta-Alanyl-L-Histidine) supplement
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for keeping runners’ muscles and teeth healthy and strong. It also reduces inflammation and pain while increasing physical performance, exercise capacity, power, and velocity.
This supplement is excellent for runners having eye-twitching issues. This symptom can manifest when you’re not getting enough sleep or are stressed. Furthermore, Vitamin D promotes sound sleep. It allows the body to repair cells, making runners bounce back faster and more robust.
How it promotes bone health
Vitamin D is also an excellent supplement for promoting bone health. Such an effect has an obvious advantage for runners who train on the pavement most days. It lowers their risk of stress fractures due to weakened bones.
Best vitamin D supplements for runners:
- Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D3
- NatureWise Vitamin D3 1000iu (25 mcg)
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats in fish and plants, particularly flaxseed, hemp seeds, and walnuts. These are anti-inflammatory and influence runners’ brain function and mental health. 
For muscle growth and endurance capacity
These essential fats likewise increase blood flow to the muscles, reducing muscle soreness after training or a race. The anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3 supplements again lessen muscle soreness after a run. 
Furthermore, it protects the cells surrounding muscle fibers and improves muscle function. A runner can take this supplement any time of the day. Splitting it into two smaller doses or taking it with food can prevent acid reflux.
Best Omega-3 supplements for runners:
- PEREGRUNE Runner Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement
- NATURELO Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement – EPA + DHA
6. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs are favorite supplements among runners and endurance athletes because of their many health benefits.
For instance, they are essential for muscle recovery. It activates a specific pathway in the body that causes protein synthesis – the process of making muscle.
A study in the Frontiers in Physiology showed that people who consumed a drink containing 5.6 grams of BCAAs after their workout had a 22% increase in muscle protein synthesis versus the placebo group. 
Additionally, BCAAs decrease muscle soreness. It’s common for runners to feel sore a day or two after running or other workouts. It can also happen when they increase intensity or distance or are new to running.
Best BCAAs for runners:
- Life Extension BCAA Capsules
- NOW Sports Nutrition, Branched Chain Amino Acids
Iron is an essential nutrient for runners. It is needed for optimal athletic performance because of its role in oxygen transport, acid-base balance, and energy metabolism. 
Runners lose more iron than other athletes. They lose such a nutrient in many ways, including through the GI tract, sweat, and foot strike hemolysis – the repeated and forceful impact of feet to the ground.
Moreover, iron deficiency can lead to anemia, a condition marked by breathlessness, pallor, weakness, and fatigue. All these could be more beneficial to runners. A low iron level means less oxygen will be transported to the muscles, affecting their performance.
This fact is why iron is one of the best supplements for runners. Iron supplements help with a runner’s metabolism and improve muscle functioning.
Best iron supplements for runners:
- Nature’s Bounty Iron Supplement
- MegaFood Blood Builder Minis – Iron Supplement
8. Vitamin E
Vitamin E supports the body by fighting free radical damage, damaging cells, and exercising. Running in a polluted environment adds oxidative stress to the body. This process causes the creation of inflammation-causing compounds.
As an antioxidant, vitamin E offers impressive support, particularly for long-distance runners. It boosts the immune system and helps repair cartilage and bone.
This vitamin also supports the general cardiovascular system and the heart. Some athletes take this supplement to ease muscle cramps.  It can also occur because of overuse or over-contraction of the muscles.
Best vitamin E for runners
- Nature-Made Vitamin E
- Life Extension, Super Vitamin E
5 Factors to Consider When Shopping for the Best Supplements for Runners
1. Intended Use
The supplement should be designed to supplement and not replace nutrients in your diet. So, consult your doctor or healthcare provider. Always read the label’s instructions before using it as well.
Dietary supplements come in various forms, such as capsules, liquids, powders, tablets, soft gels, tinctures, gummies, and bars. Choose one that you prefer best.
Are the supplements produced in facilities that follow the current good manufacturing practices? Suppliments, are they tested for accuracy and purity by a third-party organization?
Are they free of artificial additives, such as colorings, sweeteners, and flavors?
Read the supplement label first to take only the correct quantity. However, be aware of any interactions it may have with other foods, supplements/medications you take.
There’s no need to pay the highest prices to find a good quality runner supplement. There are economical products that are better quality vs. premium-priced supplements.
We hope you find this guide helpful.
These supplements are backed by science to give runners the nutrients they need to stay healthy and smash their records.
If you’re interested in increasing your muscle performance and improving tendon, ligament, and joint health, which are all necessary for running, do check out CarnoSport gel.
ChemiPower, in cooperation with Tartu Pharmacology Institute, developed a doping-free CarnoSport useful for runners. It’s a gel with carnosine as its main ingredient.
It has been approved for use by all federations and is known to increase muscle performance and accelerate muscle recovery.