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Matt Hart January 08, 2014 TWEET COMMENTS 4

Ask the Coach: Keeping Pace - Page 2

I am experimenting with a raw diet, which seems to provide more energy and strength. The longest I have eaten only raw foods is seven days. Should I supplement with a vitamin-B complex to be safe?
—Lucus DeBuhr, Fayetteville, AR

A raw-food diet generally consists of uncooked, unprocessed foods or foods that are never heated above 40 °C (104 °F). It might seem healthy at first blush, but has the potential to leave you with serious nutrient deficiencies. Registered Nutritionist Amy Kubal says, “A raw-food diet can be dangerously low in some essential nutrients, including Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, iron and some of the B vitamins.” To be “safe,” you should eat all the wonderful natural foods available to us on Earth—a variety of plant and animal products raised and grown in the best possible way—raw and cooked.

All the vegan athletes I know supplement with B12; raw-food adherents with the same animal-product restrictions will likely require similar nutritional intervention. Without animal products, it’s nearly impossible to get B12 through your diet.

With that said, the question of whether you should supplement with B vitamins, while on your raw diet, is pretty cut and dried—yes, you should. B vitamins help make red blood cells and normalize brain function. Severe depletion of B vitamins may lead to anemia, a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout the body. Runners with this condition often feel lethargic, which will essentially crater your training.

Kubal says, “A vitamin-B12 supplement or a good vitamin-B complex will help you maintain your energy and give you the Bs you aren’t getting from the foods.” The first step however is to get your levels tested.

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