Getting vitamin D is smart for athletes—lack of it can lead to injury, poor performance, and lost training time.My name starts with a D, so I’ve always felt it's very important. Lately, doctors are agreeing, saying things like “Vitamin D is arguably the most important vitamin you could take”. That’s a pretty bold statement, considering Vitamin D isn’t even a vitamin, it’s a hormone. So let’s look at why anyone would say that and why it matters to athletes. Vitamin D is a hard worker. It switches on an enzyme that helps the body make serotonin from the dietary protein, tryptophan.
Low levels of vitamin D are associated with earlier mortality, fractures and weak bones, heart disease, diabetes, MS, prostate cancer and urological symptoms, dementia, and both low immunity and autoimmunity.Furthermore, a study found that women with healthy body compositions were less likely to have markers for vitamin D deficiency when compared to women with higher levels of body fat, suggesting a relationship between vitamin D and body composition.
Other studies show a similar relationship among men:Total lean muscle was significantly higher in a study group of Qatar soccer players with normal vitamin D status compared to those who were low. Another found that football players during the NFL season if they had adequate vitamin D. Another study of 1,099 elderly individuals in Tasmania followed them for 10 years.
Over that 10-year period, the study found a correlation between the highest vitamin D levels and higher leg muscle mass, strength, and quality.A meta-analysis from 2015 summarized the ways vitamin D affected athletic performance, which included increasing the amount of oxygen an athlete can utilize, improving force and power, reducing muscle inflammation and increasing testosterone production. And that’s all of real interest for athletes. Vitamin D appears to be crucial. In fact, hockey fans may remember how the Chicago Blackhawks went from 20th place in 2008 to winning the Stanley Cup 3 times in 5 years starting in 2010. The Blackhawks started supplementing with vitamin D in 2008 which no other team was doing that at the time. Years later, it seems their advantage has worn off.
As many as 70-percent of Americans classify as deficient, but don’t presume if you spend time outside you will have sufficient levels!Even in sunny areas, this if often not true. Numbers are equally bad in many regions of the globe. The aforementioned study that looked at soccer players in sunny Qatar found that 84% of the 342 men studied had sub-par vitamin D status and 12% were severely deficient. More, though, is not always better! Based on a review of over 1,000 studies, the Institute of Medicine recommends a conservative blood level. Huge amounts all at once are not ideal, as many studies have found large doses are dangerous. Regardless of the fact that it is a storable vitamin, it is better to supplement gradually. Health Canada recommends 600-4000 IU per day for Canadian adults. To find your perfect amount, you’ll need to consider your latitude and health. Being farther from the equator or having MS means you need more D.
Even in Bermuda, if you have a lot of melanin and binge-watch Netflix inside you could need as much D as a pale friend Snowshoeing above the 40° latitude.This is because variations in sun exposure, like time spent outside and the time of year, and skin tone all factor in, too. According to a meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D3 is more effective at raising serum vitamin D levels than D2, because the kidneys and liver can more easily convert it to the active forms. Omega Sport+ (US/CA) provides you with vitamin D in safe quantities of the D3 form you need. Just three tablespoons gives you 100% of your recommended daily intake.
Holistic Nutritionist Dana Green Remedios, RHN, RNCP has a passion for helping others break through their blocks to greater health, wealth, and happiness, working with transformational mind-body tools. The Vancouver-based educator and coach answers your questions in English, French, and Spanish as a Specialist working in the Product Information Department at Flora and is a regular contributor to the FloraHealthy blog.