Vitamin D is often called “solar vitamin” because it is produced in the skin in response to sunlight. It is a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2 and D-3.
The roles of vitamin D in the body
Our body naturally produces vitamin D when directly exposed to the sun. It can also be obtained through certain foods and supplements to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D in the blood.
Vitamin D intervenes at several levels in the body. The most important are the regulation of the absorption of calcium, phosphorus, and the immune system’s normal functioning.
Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is important for the normal growth and development of bones and teeth and improving resistance against certain diseases. If our body does not receive enough vitamin D, the greatest risk is to develop bone abnormalities such as soft bones (osteomalacia) or fragile bones (osteoporosis).
Vitamin D fights the disease
In addition to its main benefits, research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in:
- Reducing the risk of multiple sclerosis
- Reduce the risk of developing heart disease
- Reduce the likelihood of contracting influenza or other seasonal illness
Vitamin D reduces depression
Research has shown that vitamin D can play an important role in regulating mood and preventing depression. In one study, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.
Vitamin D promotes weight loss
Consider adding vitamin D supplements to your diet if you are trying to lose weight or prevent heart disease.
In one study, people taking daily calcium and vitamin D supplements could lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement. Scientists said that high levels of calcium and vitamin D had an appetite suppressant effect.
Vitamin D needs of athletes
Exercise greatly increases an athlete’s vitamin D requirements because muscles, heart and vascular tissues all contain key vitamin D receptors. Today, studies show that more than 50% of athletes are deficient in vitamin D. While the direct cause is not clear, it is very likely that it is due to a combination of factors like inflammatory processes, muscle damage, increased need for protein synthesis, increased immune activity, lack of sun exposure, etc.
The VO2 Max
You probably spend a lot of time planning and periodizing your workout to maximize your efforts, but did you know that a lack of vitamin D can compromise your maximum oxygen absorption or VO2 max (a classic marker for assessing aerobic capacity)? New research on professional hockey and football players has found a strong correlation between low vitamin D levels and VO2 max.
Muscle tissue has many receptors for vitamin D and they seem to play a key role in supporting energy production. For athletes, increasing power production translates into improved performance on the playing field.
A low rate of testosterone is a common symptom in athletes who are in overtraining. Unfortunately, too many people are looking for a quick solution rather than addressing the problem: why are their testosterone levels low in the first place? Vitamin D is a precursor to testosterone production and can increase the efficiency of its binding to its receptors. Low testosterone levels are linked to increased protein breakdown, decreased strength and increased body fat.
Intense training is constraining for muscles and joints, but it also has an impact on your mind. If you are a regular athlete or athlete, you regularly push yourself into your entrenchments. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a positive mood in order to remain as consistent as possible over long periods of time.
Low levels of vitamin D are consistently associated with depression and bad mood. Cognitive decline also affects decision-making abilities, which are crucial in the heat of the competition.
The best sources of vitamin D
The sun is by far the best source of vitamin D: 15 minutes of exposure on 5% of your skin produces 10,000 to 20,000 IU of vitamin D!
If you live in a not very sunny place, consume foods rich in vitamin D: egg yolk, mushrooms, milk, and yogurt.
If you live in a winter climate, food alone will not meet your demands. The general recommendation to supplement with vitamin D during the winter is 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day. However, this is the case for the general population, not athletes. Research on athletes suggests that a dose between 4000 and 6000 IU of vitamin D3 per day is optimal.