Are you getting enough D?
It's winter here in Australia and a cold one for many of us too!
Shorter winter days mean morning and evening training is likely in the semi-dark or dark, under layers of warm kit or perhaps even indoors. Even in the event you’re getting out in the sunshine during the day, you might still be wrapped up in warm layers with your skin mostly covered.
When it comes to vitamin D, research shows that even in generally sunny countries like Australia, deficiency is more prevalent than we think.
If you’re regularly working out in the dark or indoors, cover up while training or are dark skinned; then you may not be getting enough sunlight or vitamin D and that’s a problem for both your overall health and performance.
Why you need some D
While we can obtain small amounts from certain foods, sunlight is our main source of Vitamin D – hence why it is also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’. The word vitamin is itself a bit misleading here, as this fat soluble vitamin actually functions as a hormone and plays a critical role in many areas of health.
Vitamin D is involved in virtually all bodily processes and systems, with receptors found in almost every tissue throughout the human body. Vitamin D plays an important role in:
- Bone strength and health (by regulating calcium and phosphorous homeostasis)
- Gene expression
- Growth and recovery
- Nerve signalling
- Muscle function and strength
- Immune function
- Wound healing and skin health
- Optimal body composition
- Reducing risk of certain cancers
- Mood and brain function
And for athletes?
Vitamin D plays a role in supporting consistent training and performance. Deficiencies can lead to reduced immunity, increased inflammation, poor recovery and a reduction in bone strength. In addition, there is also emerging evidence that supplementing vitamin D in athletes with suboptimal levels may have beneficial effects when it comes to strength, power, reaction time and balance.
How to get more D in your day
Exposure to Ultraviolet B radiation is our main source of vitamin D.
Depending on where you live (your latitude) and the time of year (the season), will determine the recommended amount of exposure to sunlight required to meet adequate vitamin D levels. However, it’s generally recommended that we get 10-30 minutes of midday sun a few times a week.
Some foods do contain small amounts of vitamin D, but they aren’t enough alone to provide sufficient levels. The richest sources are:
- Egg yolks
- Oily fish
- Fortified foods
Supplementation is a smart way to boost intake of vitamin D, but you want to ensure quality and dose are adequate. Vitamin D3 is the preferable form, and an intake of greater than or equal to about 1000 IU may be needed for most of the population.
Can I get tested for vitamin D deficiency?
It’s a good idea to get tested periodically, particularly if you have symptoms of deficiency – including a history of stress fractures, frequent sickness, poor wound healing or recovery, mood or cognitive disorders. It’s also important to note that prevalence is more common amongst women and increases with age; certain medications may interfere with the body’s ability to produce or absorb vitamin D, and gut disorders such as Crohns or Celiac disease increase risk of deficiency. A simple blood test is all that is required to test your vitamin D levels.
Currently, clinical vitamin D levels are defined as follows:
- Deficient (<20 ng/mL)
- Insufficient (20 to 32 ng/mL)
- Sufficient (>32 ng/mL).
Higher levels are often recommended for athletes for health as well as performance reasons, but chat to your doctor about this.
PILLAR’s D3 SPORT EFFECT is developed to provide high-strength nutritional support for the maintenance of a healthy skeletal system.
Formulated with an extremely high-strength dosage of cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) to help ensure optimal immune function, muscle recovery and absorption of calcium and other nutrients into the body.