What supplements to take for running?

This question is about Nutrition and Running

Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, Freelance Writer

There are a wide variety of supplements that have been shown to be beneficial for runners, including magnesium, tart cherry juice, turmeric, caffeine, creatine, sodium bicarbonate, beta-alanine, and nitrates (from beets). Here’s what science has to say about how these supplements affect running:

  • Magnesium: Research suggests that magnesium supplements may help with sleep and relaxation, both of which are important after tough training days [


    ]. Additionally, magnesium is lost through sweat, so replacing it is essential for hydration [



  • Tart cherry juice: Rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, research suggests that drinking tart cherry juice before running may help improve performance and reduce muscle soreness [



  • Turmeric: This spice contains a compound called curcumin, which serves as a potent antioxidant. Small studies indicate that 150-1500mg turmeric/day may speed up post-exercise recovery and reduce muscle soreness [


    ]. Moreover, other research suggests that taking 1000-1500mg of turmeric extract daily may reduce knee pain and improve functionality in people with osteoarthritis [



  • Caffeine: Ingesting caffeine before a run may result in improved performance, speed, power, and endurance capacity [


    ]. Caffeine is a well-known central nervous system stimulant, and is naturally found in coffee, tea, and chocolate. 

  • Creatine: Evidence suggests that supplementing with creatine may improve muscle recovery, glycogen replenishment, and potentially improve speed/output during a run [



  • Sodium bicarbonate: Otherwise known as baking soda, sodium bicarbonate might improve athletic performance in runners by buffering lactic acid production, a major factor of muscle fatigue [



  • Beta-alanine: Beta-alanine may help improve performance and reduce neuromuscular fatigue during a run, especially near maximum effort [



  • Nitrates: Beets are naturally rich in nitrates, a substance that increases nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and increases oxygen uptake in the muscles, which may enhance running performance [



Ground turmeric in a spoon

  1. Lukaski, H. C. (2000). Magnesium, zinc, and chromium nutriture and physical activity. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72(2).



  2. Gao, R., & Chilibeck, P. D. (2020). Effect of tart cherry concentrate on endurance exercise performance: A meta-analysis. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 39(7), 657–664.



  3. Yoon, W. Y., Lee, K., & Kim, J. (2020). Curcumin supplementation and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS): effects, mechanisms, and practical considerations. Physical activity and nutrition, 24(3), 39–43.



  4. Paultre K, Cade W, Hernandez D, et alTherapeutic effects of turmeric or curcumin extract on pain and function for individuals with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic reviewBMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2021;7:e000935. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2020-000935

  5. Wiles, J. D., Coleman, D., Tegerdine, M., & Swaine, I. L. (2006). The effects of caffeine ingestion on performance time, speed and power during A Laboratory-based 1 km cycling time-trial. Journal of Sports Sciences, 24(11), 1165–1171.



  6. Rawson, E. S., Miles, M. P., & Larson-Meyer, D. E. (2018). Dietary Supplements for Health, Adaptation, and Recovery in Athletes, International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 28(2), 188-199. Retrieved Jul 27, 2021, from


  7. Hadzic, M., Eckstein, M. L., & Schugardt, M. (2019). The Impact of Sodium Bicarbonate on Performance in Response to Exercise Duration in Athletes: A Systematic Review. Journal of sports science & medicine, 18(2), 271–281.



  8. Hobson, R.M., Saunders, B., Ball, G. et al. Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids 43, 25–37 (2012).


  9. Domínguez R, Cuenca E, Maté-Muñoz JL, García-Fernández P, Serra-Paya N, Estevan MCL, Herreros PV, Garnacho-Castaño MV. Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017; 9(1):43.