Most of us tend to start thinking about Vitamin D during the winter time due to our lack of exposure to the sun. And this makes sense - Vitamin D is the only vitamin we obtain through sun exposure, as well as the easiest way to get it. But let’s take a closer look into this vitamin.
What is Vitamin D and what does it do for me?
Vitamin D is actually a group of prohormones, which play important roles in the body. These include helping the body absorb calcium, help the immune system function, regulate glucose intolerance, and help regulate blood pressure. It has been shown to prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, diabetes, and possibly even slow the aging process.
How do we get Vitamin D?
As stated previously, the best way to get Vitamin D is through natural sun exposure. However, if you live above 37* latitude (pretty much anywhere north of Los Angeles) getting adequate amounts from November to March becomes difficult. Therefore, we need to rely on other sources in our diet and supplements to maintain sufficient D levels.
Vitamin D can be found in several food sources, including:
Oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna)
Vitamin D fortified foods (ie: milk - cow, almond, soy)
However, it can still be difficult to eat enough of these foods in your regular diet to obtain adequate amounts of Vitamin D. This is when supplementing with Vitamin D is a great benefit.
How much Vitamin D do I need?
The medical recommended daily dose for average adults is 5,000 IUs or 35,000-50,000 IU twice per week. There are recent studies that suggest taking larger doses at a time are more effective than smaller daily doses.
How do I know if I am Vitamin D deficient?
Again, most people think about Vitamin D during the winter because of the lack of sun exposure. Most often times, this is because they start to experience symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or the “winter blues”. This is because in the winter we experience more dark, gloomy weather, which can have a profound effect on our body clocks. This causes a natural desire to hibernate. Extended periods of darkness can also cause us to eat more and be less energetic. These symptoms are easily taken care of when you are making sure to supplement Vitamin D when sun exposure is at its lowest.
Other symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency in adults can include:
Immune System Problems
Aside from being overall beneficial to my health, how does Vitamin D help me as an athlete?
Muscle strength - lack of Vitamin D can lead to abnormalities in muscle contraction and relaxation, affecting muscle force production. Adequate levels have also been shown to reduce the degradation of protein in muscle.
Muscle power and force development - D has been shown to improve muscle power development and jump height. The muscle’s ability to contract and produce force is affected by the levels of the vitamin in the body.
Lean Body Mass - D is essential for the maintenance of muscle, lean body mass, and avoiding the development of fat in the muscle.
So there it is folks. If you have any further questions on Vitamin D and how it affects you, feel free to reach out. But, if your goal is to be healthier, live longer, get stronger, and keep your brain performing optimally, having adequate levels of Vitamin D just might be part of the solution!