BY: Angela Leach
Vitamin D is different from other vitamins for two reasons. Firstly, it is in actual fact a hormone otherwise known as calcitriol1. Secondly, while other vitamins must be taken in through diet, the body is actually able to obtain Vitamin D through certain foods or produce it through exposure to sunlight. Despite this fact, Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency is common in a large proportion of the world’s population which can cause serious health issues if not recified2.
For a long time the role of Vitamin D in bone health has been widely recognised, but in recent years research has increased in its role in muscle function. This leads us to ask, how can getting sufficient Vitamin D optimise our sports performance?
WHAT INFLUENCE DOES VITAMIN D HAVE ON ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE?
Improved muscle strength
Vitamin D plays a regulatory role in protein synthesis and various studies have demonstrated that Vitamin D can improve muscle strength. These results have been revealed in both upper and lower limbs4,5,6.
Vitamin D deficiencies are linked to an increased risk of muscular injury as well as prolonged recovery time6, keeping you away from training and improving.
Decreased risk of stress fracture
Due to the very important role Vitamin D plays in bone health, supplementation has demonstrated significant effects in the prevention of fractures, including stress fractures5,6,7.
Studies have demonstrated that increased levels of Vitamin D can reduce the level of inflammation following intense exercise. The benefit of the decrease in inflammation would be an earlier resumption of training7,8.
Immune system benefits
Increased blood Vitamin D levels are associated with a strengthened immune system, the result, less colds and flu and fewer infections to keep you away from training6,8.
Over and above these benefits in sports there is also research to show that Vitamin D can reduce cancer risk9,10,11, type 1 diabetes10,11,depression11, osteoporosis10,11 and overall morality,10,11 amongst others.
WHAT IS THE BEST DIETARY SOURCE?
For those periods where soaking up some sun is just not possible, cod liver oil is the top dietary source of Vitamin D with just one tablespoon providing more than double the daily value for this nutrient.
The FUTURELIFE® Smart Food™ range is also a great source of Vitamin D providing 100% of the NRV per 100g.