Cycling for charity can be tough on the body and it’s vital that once you have a training programme planned that you look at planning your diet. A suitably balanced diet (and in certain circumstances an accompanying supplementation programme) should deliver all the vitamins and minerals a cyclists needs.
Here is a list of the key vitamins that you should be aware of. We recommend that if you have any concerns or questions about your body and diet that you consult your GP or a health care professional.
Vitamin A is needed for the formation and maintenance of healthy bones (as well as teeth, skin and soft tissue).
Vitamins B is essential for the production of energy. B vitamins form enzymes which act as a catalyst in the chemical reactions that transfer energy into the body - they are also essential for the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose (see the ‘Carbohydrates’ section).
Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants essentially ‘mop up’ free radicals, which are present in both the food we eat and the air we breathe (and runners do tend to breathe a lot!). Free radicals can cause cell damage and even cancer. Vitamin C also increases energy production and is necessary for the synthesis of collagen for the formation of connective tissue and bone.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body absorb calcium, which is essential for muscle contraction. It has also been reported that vitamin D has the ability to prevent trauma induced joint concerns. Vitamin D is produced by the body when exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are substances that react with our cells and can cause them to function poorly or even die. It is this cellular damage that is a common pathway for cancer, aging and a variety of diseases. Because free radicals are in the air we all breathe, runners are likely to have higher levels of free radicals because they have a higher uptake of oxygen.
Vitamin K allows for the absorption of calcium into bones.