In some form, I understand the question, but in another – I almost think it is slightly mis-informed. Ultimately, no one vitamin can ever have quite the effect of a well balanced diet that includes all the key vitamins and minerals in the diet. I know we’ve all heard it before – blah blah blah – but in all honesty it is true. However, if you are an individual who does struggle with food choices, and specific attention is required due to your high training loads, there are two areas I would focus:
Iron: This helps to facilitate oxygen transport, and whilst females remain the most at risk, it is important that a runner with a serious training programme cannot be diet low in iron
Vitamin C: As touched upon above, vitamin C might be important in supporting a reduced risk or fight against infection
Colds are the curse of winter! In an ideal world we would try to reduce the risk of catching a cold and there are probably a few areas that you could investigate. The most important area is “energy” – if you are training hard, it is well known that if there are any deficits in your total energy intake, particularly if delayed after a training session, the opportunity to catch a cold is much higher. Therefore, think about whether you are consuming enough food and in particular whether you are consuming a recovery snack immediately after training.
Other options include Vitamin C, probiotics and a regular intake of fresh fruit and vegetables
Travel snacks should be packed in your hand luggage as an alternative to sweets, crisps, chocolate, cakes and other unhealthy options. Airports are full of shops temping you into buying unhealthy foods that are packed with empty calories. Swap chocolates, sweets and crisps with dried fruit, mixed nuts and seeds, oatcakes, yoghurts, beef jerky and low fat muesli bars.
You shouldn’t feel obliged to eat the food provided on the plane. You can pack your own meals and snacks to eat on the plane. Sandwiches, cold pizza, salads and noodle pots are good options to replace main meals.
The best things to drink are water, water with fresh lemon, fruit squash, watered down fruit juice and fruit or herbal teas.
Alcohol can disrupt sleep, cause dehydration and contain empty calories. If you want to enjoy a glass of wine with your meal, make sure you drink plenty of water afterwards.
It’s probably best to try a herbal sleeping pill before you travel rather than trying them for the first time on a flight. However, they can cause disruption to your sleep pattern and can exacerbate the issue of dehydration. You are better off setting your clock to the destination time and using relaxation strategies to help you sleep.
The most important nutritional challenge during short haul is hydration. You will still be susceptible to dehydration whether you are flying long haul or short haul. It’s still best to avoid excessive intake of sugar and processed snacks but going without food for a couple of hours will not do you any harm!