If you’re serious about cycling, it’s important to protect your body from oxidative stress, which naturally occurs during endurance exercise. The following three supplements may help to protect against harmful free radicals and fight fatigue, ensuring that you get the most out of your cycling routine.
“Vitamin E” is actually not just one vitamin, but a group of fat-soluble antioxidants. Vitamin E stops the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are formed when fat undergoes oxidation—that is, during exercise. Some studies recommend that endurance athletes supplement with 100-200mg of vitamin E daily to help fight exercise-induced oxidative damage. Vitamin E can also be found in certain foods, such as wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds and hazelnuts.
When you’re biking at a high intensity, it’s important to have enough breathing capacity to be able to support your lung health. This is especially important when you are biking at high altitudes if you want to have more stamina. Since Vitamin E is also an antioxidant, it can protect the cells in any of your muscles as well. This can be very helpful, especially since your muscles can take a beating when you’re biking at a high intensity or for a long period of time (or both).
Magnesium is made by your body and is necessary for protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function and regulating blood pressure. It’s an integral player in energy production and bone health. Your kidneys regulate the magnesium levels in your body by excreting about 120 mg into your urine on a daily basis. Strenuous exercise increases magnesium loss through urine and sweat. Even a small amount of magnesium deficiency can hurt your performance and raise the likelihood of oxidative stress. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps and brain fog. Among the common causes of bike accidents, one of the most common is being fatigued and distracted. Magnesium supplementation can help.
The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) recommends that adults age 19 to 30 supplement with 320 mg of magnesium daily—360 mg when pregnant. Highly active individuals may need to raise their intake by 10 to 20 percent. Food sources of magnesium include almonds, spinach, cashews, peanuts, and shredded wheat.
Another vitamin that can help fight fatigue is B12. It’s water-soluble and necessary for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function and DNA synthesis. It also assists with carbohydrate metabolism. Symptoms of B12 deficiency include fatigue, difficulty maintaining balance, numbness and tingling of the hands and feet. It’s found naturally in many animal products, including clams, beef, liver, trout, salmon and tuna. Due to its low toxicity, there are no known negative side effects of taking too much B12.
Supplementing your diet with Vitamin B12 is increasingly important as you get older. As you get older, your body’s ability to absorb nutrients naturally from food decreases. Taking a supplement will help you to keep the amount of B12 in your body that you need, especially if you’re an active biker who needs energy frequently.
Eating healthy will not only help you to feel better in general, but will also help you to increase your performance in bike races. While supplements may not guarantee you'll win the Tour de France, they can help you increase your energy and protect your cells so that you can go the extra mile.